After nearly 13 years of competing in mixed martial arts (MMA), Josh Thomson will finally have the chance to earn his first-ever Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) world title when he takes on current lightweight champion Anthony Pettis in the main event of UFC on FOX 9 on Dec. 14, 2013, in Sacramento, California.
The opportunity came after T.J. Grant revealed he wouldn't be ready to face off against "Showtime" due to the lingering effects of a concussion, which forced him out of his original title fight last month against Ben Henderson at UFC 164.
While Thomson may have received the title fight by default, that doesn't mean the former Strikeforce lightweight kingpin isn't deserving of the opportunity.
In fact, the 26-fight veteran say he would have been champion of the promotion way back when the sport was still in the dark ages, had it not been for the surging promotion's decision to do away with the 155-pound weight class for a couple of years.
"The Punk" elaborates to Bleacher Report:
"My honest to God opinion is if they hadn't gotten rid of the weight class, I probably would have been champion a long time ago in the UFC. I feel like I've never not been a top lightweight, but injuries have barred me from being as active as I could have been in my career. This was an opportunity that was taken from me back in 2004 when the division wasn't carrying its own weight. Now, this opportunity is presented to me and you can bet your ass I'm going to capitalize on it."
And as time goes on, the soon-to-be 35-year-old knows his championship fight against Pettis in "Sac-Town" could very well be his final opportunity to be a UFC champion, which is why he plans on leaving it all in the cage against one of the most dangerous and accurate strikers in the sport today.
"There is nothing after this. This is it. I'm not 27. I'll be 35 this weekend. This is it. If I lose this fight, the chances of me having time to come back and get another title shot are pretty slim and I know that. You can bet your ass I'm going to put everything into this. I only need to be that good for one night. I can get my ass kicked every single day in training but the only thing that matters is I have to be better than him in that one night. I just need to go out there and I need to be better than him that one night. I could go out and have the shittiest camp in the world, but if I go out there and beat him on that night, that's all that matters."
"The Punk" made a successful return to the Octagon last April by becoming the first man to ever knock out former No. 1 contender Nate Diaz, finishing him in the second round at UFC on FOX 7.
Prior to that win, Thomson failed to reclaim his Strikeforce title by coming up short against Gilbert Melendez in what was the third and final time the former champions had met inside the cage.
Pettis, meanwhile, earned his spot as the division's kingpin by submitting Ben Henderson in the first-round at UFC 164, after being pegged as Grant's replacement.
And just like "Showtime" before him, Thomson plans on making the most of his unexpected opportunity as he looks to reach the pinnacle of the MMA mountain before his best days pass him by.
Can he do it?