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UFC Fight Night 71 fight card: Josh Thomson vs Tony Ferguson full fight preview

Josh Thomson and Tony Ferguson will battle this Wednesday (July 15, 2015) at UFC Fight Night 71 inside Valley View Casino Center in San Diego, California. In a match up of knockout artists, what adjustments must be made for either man to claim victory? Find out below!

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighter Championship (UFC) Lightweight standouts Josh Thomson and Tony Ferguson will clash this Wednesday (July 15, 2015) at UFC Fight Night 71 inside Valley View Casino Center in San Diego, California.

Thomson has fallen on some hard times. He's lost three of his last four via split decision albeit to some admittedly top notch competition, leaving the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) more than frustrated and in need of a victory.

Outside of an extremely close decision win over Danny Castillo, Ferguson has been absolutely crushing his opponents. He's finished four of his last five victories, and he'll look to make the jump into the Top 10 here.

Let's take a look at the keys to victory for both fighters:

Josh Thomson
Record: 20-7 (1)
Key Wins: Nate Diaz (UFC on FOX 7), Gilbert Melendez (Strikeforce: "Melendez vs. Thomson"), Pat Healy (Strikeforce: "Fedor vs. Werdum")
Key Losses: Benson Henderson (UFC on FOX 10), Gilbert Melendez (Strikeforce: "Evolution," Strikeforce: "Barnett vs. Cormier"), Bobby Green (UFC on FOX 12)
Keys to Victory: Thomson is a very well-rounded fighter with a ton of experience. Recently, he's been a bit too patient in allowing his opponent to dictate the pace, which has cost him so arguable decision losses.

Against a killer like Ferguson, it could end much worse for him.

To avoid that outcome, Thomson should look to impose his wrestling game from the get-go. He proved in his recent bout with Benson Henderson just how incredible his clinch wrestling is, tossing him around and moved into back mount multiple times across the five-round fight.

Meanwhile, Castillo -- another veteran wrestler -- gave Ferguson the toughest test of his recent win streak, and he did it with a fairly relentless takedown attack. Thomson should look to do the same, and his preference for clinch work will actually be a good thing here, as it will keep him away from his opponent's nasty chokes.

Above all else, Thomson simply can't waste time in this fight. If he hangs around on the edge of Ferguson's range, it's not going to end well for him at all. Thomson needs to keep a high pace while following a game plan, two aspects which eluded him in his last performance.


Tony Ferguson
Record: 18-3
Key Wins: Gleison Tibau (UFC 184), Danny Castillo (UFC 177), Abel Trujillo (UFC 181)
Key Losses: Michael Johnson (UFC on FOX 3)
Keys to Victory: Ferguson has a very lanky build and makes the absolute most of it. Despite having a solid wrestling background, Ferguson has finished a majority of his victories via knockout.

And don't sleep on his Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills either.

Ferguson really has one way to fight. He goes after his opponent on the feet, chasing him down with punches and kicks. He has a solid chin, which helps him maintain this occasionally reckless style, but also relies heavily on his lengthy range to keep him safe.

Luckily, "El Cucuy's" usual M.O. should work just fine. Thomson hasn't been all that aggressive lately, meaning he may simply succumb to his opponent's swarm. If not, Thomson has never been much of a knockout artist, meaning Ferguson's power and size should give him the advantage standing.

However, it's important that Ferguson doesn't try to drop to his back in pursuit of submissions. "Punk" has yet to be submitted in his 14-year professional career, and Ferguson's not likely to become the first by dropping for d'arces straight from the stand up.

That's low percentage jiu-jitsu on the best of days, and it could cost Ferguson badly if he gives up top position too often.

Bottom Line: This is a hugely important bout for both men.

This is really Thomson's last chance to prove he's a Top 10-ranked fighter. He's deep into his career, has suffered many injures, and recently began his career as an actor; none of which are signs that a fighter is about to make a title run. If Thomson loses his third bout in a row, it's time for a step back.

That said, if Thomson is able to prove that he hasn't lost a step, he's still one of the very best lightweights in the world. Ferguson hasn't lost in some time, so a victory over him would be a big momentum for Thomson and could be the start of a new win streak.

Ferguson is in his prime right now. He's at the right age and experience level to make an impact of the top of the division, but he needs to a victory over "Punk" to do so. If he can make it six straight, he's just one or two more wins away from a title opportunity.

Alternatively, a loss would destroy that win streak Ferguson has so carefully built up. There's always plenty of potential 155-pound contenders available, meaning it would require quite a bit of work for Ferguson to get back into contention.

At UFC Fight Night 71, Josh Thomson and Tony Ferguson will go to war in the co-main event. Which fighter will earn the victory?

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