UFC Fight Night 148: Thompson vs. Pettis, Saturday, March 23, 2019 from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee, featured a main and preliminary card both featured on ESPN+. In extending its relationship with ESPN the UFC has been delivering some dynamite performances to its partner in what should be a long and prosperous affiliation. On display on the night’s main card were veterans and prospects alike, and the future looks exceptionally bright for young up-and-comers Maycee Barber and Luis Pena.
Even though there were only two finishes, the night was a grand showcase for five of the six victors to make claims for their eventual ascension to the top of their divisional rankings. Follow along as I recap all of the action from the six fights on the main card of UFC Fight Night 148.
Women’s Flyweight: Maycee Barber (7-0) vs. JJ Aldrich (7-3)
Maycee Barber versus JJ Aldrich kicked off the main event of UFC Fight Night 148. Barber is one of the most promising young prospects in women’s MMA, and at only 20 years old, it seems the sky is the limit for the undefeated fighter. As the fight began, third-degree Taekwondo black belt JJ Aldrich seemed to have Barber right where she wanted her. Aldrich caught Barber with a heavy left hand that dropped Barber early. Aldrich applied constant forward pressure and kept the explosive Maycee Barber on her heels. Aldrich clearly won the round, and it appeared that the fight was going in a direction that very few expected.
Barber got to open up her hands a bit in the second, and she did some nice work from the clinch midway through the round, delivering several sharp elbows. Having found her range, Barber returned the favor and landed a heavy left that stunned Aldrich, and Barber finished her standing up shortly after.
Victor: Maycee Barber, second-round TKO
Featherweight: Luis Pena (6-1) vs. Steven Peterson (17-8)
The second fight on the main card featured another young and exciting UFC prospect in Luis Pena versus Steven Peterson. Pena was in control of this fight from the first moments of the first round, displaying solid technical grappling and creative striking. He hurt Peterson midway through the round, and even though Peterson recovered, it was clear that he was in trouble entering the second.
Peterson wisely took the fight to the ground to begin the second, and he briefly got Pena’s back. But, Pena was crafty and shook Peterson off. Peterson generated a few more takedowns, and he had a much better showing this round. However, any time there was space, Peterson was at the mercy of a fiercely more effective striker in Pena. The takedowns were evidently not enough to win the round for Peterson, as Pena clearly dominated in significant strikes.
Pena was easily the better, fresher fighter in the third, and Peterson was did nothing more than his best to not get finished. Nobody can question the toughness of Steven Peterson, however he lost almost every minute of each round of this one.
Victor: Luis Pena, unanimous decision
Flyweight: Jussier Formiga (23-5) vs. Deiveson Figueiredo (15-1)
In the only Flyweight action of the night, Jussier Formiga took on undefeated Deiveson Figueiredo. Both fighters spent the first half of the opening act finding their ranges. There were nice exchanges landed on both sides, and Formiga secured a spectacular takedown midway though the round. He maintained control throughout the round, and ended it on top and in mount.
Wanting to continue his earlier success, Formiga landed the takedown early in the second and he kept control for nearly the entire round. Though he did manage some ground and pound, it was a sharp elbow from Figueiredo on the bottom that opened up a nasty cut above Formiga’s eye. That being said, one elbow would not be enough to steal the round, and Deiveson Figueiredo’s seven year unbeaten streak was in serious jeopardy going into the final round.
Deiveson tried to open up in the third, but Formiga wisely did not oblige, and kept to the outside. Midway through the round, Formiga secured another takedown, and although he didn’t do much damage from the top, he did enough to get the shutout.
Victor: Jussier Formiga, unanimous decision
Lightweight: John Makdessi (17-6) vs. Jesus Pinedo (16-5-1)
Action on the main card changed pace as John Makdessi took on Peru’s Jesus Pinedo. Both fighters had difficult times finding their ranges, throughout the first, and it was a difficult round to score.
In the second round, it was clear that Pinedo was out of rhythm. Makdessi wasn’t generating a lot of flash either, but he was effective with his leg kicks, swelling up the outside of Pinedo’s right leg. Action heated up at the end of the round, and Pinedo landed a nice head kick.
Unfortunately, Jesus Pinedo did not carry the momentum from the closing of the second round into the third, and the round transpired similarly to the first two, with Jesus Pinedo staying too far outside and Makdessi uncontestedly landing the leg kick.
Victor: John Makdessi, unanimous decision
Heavyweight·Co-main: Curtis Blaydes (11-2-0, 1NC) vs. Justin Willis (8-2)
Curtis Blaydes versus Justin Willis was the only Heavyweight action featured on the main card of UFC Fight Night 148. Blaydes entered the fight a heavy favorite, and to begin the fight, he did what many thought he would in taking things to the canvas. His wrestling proved to be too much for Justin Willis, and Blaydes maintained control, securing takedown after takedown until the end of the round.
Blaydes began the second round with a big right that rattled Willis, and even though he recovered, Blaydes immediately took him back down to the mat. Similarly to the first, Willis had no answer to the wrestling and top control of Blaydes.
The third round found Curtis Blaydes content to step back and play it safe until Justin Willis became enough of a nuisance to take him down and ride top control until the final horn blew.
Victor: Curtis Blaydes, unanimous decision
Welterweight·Main event: Stephen Thompson (14-4-1) vs. Anthony Pettis (22-8)
Anthony “Showtime” Pettis made his Welterweight debut against Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson as the main event of UFC Fight Night 148. Thompson looked phenomenal to start this one, coming out more active and aggressive then what he typically has shown to do. His striking was clean, with crisp kicks and tight combinations. Thompson established his jab early, and it was the difference in the first 9:55 seconds of this fight.
As the second round began, it was clear that Anthony Pettis, like so many before him, was having a hard time figuring Stephen Thompson out. Pettis had no answer for Thompson’s jab, and it allowed Thompson to stay in his range. Things seemed to be getting worse for Pettis, as the round was closing, and he was backed up to the cage. Thompson maintained forward pressure, and threw a side kick that connected with Pettis’ stomach. With mere seconds remaining in a round dominated by Stephen Thompson, Pettis bounced off the cage, leaped into the air and threw a Superman punch that landed flush to Thompson’s chin, putting him to sleep before he hit the mat.
Victor: Anthony Pettis, second-round knockout