When thinking about his fight with Nate Diaz at UFC on Fox 7: "Henderson vs. Melendez" this Saturday night (April 20, 2013) in San Jose, Calif., Josh Thomson envisions a 15-minute war.
"The Punk" returns to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) after a nearly decade-long hiatus from the world's premier mixed martial arts (MMA) organization; however, he wasn't just sitting around doing nothing during that time.
In the nine-plus years since his last UFC appearance, Thomson has budded into one of the top Lightweight fighters in the sport, even capturing a world title belt under the Strikeforce banner.
Seventeen fights after he last stepped foot inside the Octagon, Thomson is back and ready to compete on the network televised fight card against a very serious opponent in The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 5 winner.
"I think he's going to be ready and he'll be ready to go," Thomson said of Diaz in an interview with MMAmania.com. "I think at 155 he's dangerous man, he's well rounded, he's good on the ground, he's got good boxing, he's long. He poses a threat for everyone only because of his body and his style."
Diaz is coming off a defeat to 155-pound titleholder Benson Henderson at UFC on FOX 5 last December in what many considered to be a poor showing by the Stockton, Calif., native.
The Diaz brothers are known for their durability and ability to battle through tough situations, and coming off a lopsided defeat in a world title fight, Thomson expects Diaz to be as difficult a test as ever.
"The way he competes -- I've said it before about Nick Diaz, his brother, is that their style isn't great, but they're a bad match up for a lot of people just because the way their body is," Thomson explained. "They're 6'1", 6'2" in height, they box long, they throw punches in bunches, their punch output is extremely high and so when you get frustrated, you take them down and when you take them down you get caught because you're in their world, they enjoy being on the ground and they enjoy being in those positions.
"So, realistically, I think it's going to be an interesting fight."
Thomson is also coming off a defeat in a world title fight, as he dropped a razor-thin split decision to the current UFC No. 1 contender Gilbert Melendez in his final bout under the Strikeforce banner before the organization closed its doors in Jan. 2013.
Looking to put his name back on the map in the UFC's lightweight division after all these years, the 35-year-old wants to give the fans what they want to see by keeping the fight standing and exchanging blows with his opponent on the feet, despite both men holding black belt-level Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills.
"I wouldn't mind seeing the fight on the feet and us just throwing down and be able to hit him with something," Thomson said of the bout with Diaz. "I'm going to have to mix it up a lot from punching, clinching, kneeing, elbowing -- all that stuff. In tight, in close, from far and far outside, letting everything rip so, so we'll see. I'm going to have to take advantage of every tool I have."
While he is hoping to put on a show stealing scrap on a card loaded with talent and big names, the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) product is realistic in his assessment of how the fight will play out.
"Him and his brother are extremely hard to finish," Thomson said of Nate and his brother, Nick. "I really couldn't tell you exactly how the fight's going to be finished. To be honest I don't really see it being finished."
Even though Thomson would surely like to be the first man to ever stop Diaz inside the Octagon, he knows the 27-year-old is one of the most difficult fighters in the sport to put away, which is why he is ultimately planning for 15 minutes of fury.
"I think it will be a barnburner for the fans for three hard rounds while we get at it."