The main event of Saturday night’s UFC Fight Night card lasted two rounds, and Anthony Pettis spent the bulk of that time getting picked apart by Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson. It was a suitably thorough performance from one of the UFC’s most accomplished kickboxers, right up until the moment Pettis bounced off the cage and knocked Thompson out with a Superman punch.
This is comfortably the best knockout of the year—move on over, Johnny Walker and Jorge Masvidal—and it’s the most dramatic fight-ending strike since Yair Rodriguez’s blind Hail Mary elbow in November 2018.
Thompson’s superior range proved a uniquely difficult challenge for Pettis in his first welterweight fight in 11 years. Wonderboy comfortably kept his opponent on the end of an unpredictable serving of weird kicks, and mixed in some guard-splitting jabs and counter combinations. Pettis countered Thompson’s kicks with leg kicks, which might have helped him set up his fight-ending punch by robbing Thompson of his quickness.
Pettis, who has basically never had a boring fight, is a welcome addition to the top of the UFC welterweight ranks, which are swollen with pressure wrestlers and old guys. He’s shown that he can bang at three weight classes; after this victory, he’s now only the third-ever UFC fighter to win at 145, 155, and 170 pounds. At every stop, Pettis’s run has been defined by a willingness to try something foolish with a low success rate. He might not necessarily be able to pull off a devastating cage kick against fighters like Kamaru Usman or Colby Covington, but he’s an endlessly creative fighter, and it’ll be fun to watch him try.