Stephen Thompson not interested in fighting Shavkat Rakhmonov next: “It doesn’t make sense for me to face another heavy grappler”

By Cole Shelton - August 25, 2022

Stephen Thompson isn’t interested in fighting Shavkat Rakhmonov next.

Stephen Thompson, Shavkat Rakhmonov

Thompson hasn’t fought since last December when he lost by decision to Belal Muhammad. It was his second straight defeat, and in both losses, he was out grappled and outwrestled.

Since those setbacks, Thompson has been healing up a collarbone injury but is now ready to return at UFC 281 at Madison Square Garden. However, the UFC has offered him Shvakat Rakhmonov and wants to make that fight but ‘Wonderboy’ says he has no interest in it and won’t accept the fight.

“The UFC was talking about maybe Shavkat, he just beat Neil Magny. I was like look, ‘UFC, give me someone that is going to want to strike with me.’ I haven’t turned down the last two guys who are grapplers, one of the top grapplers in the welterweight division, didn’t turn him down,” Thompson said to on Thursday. “I was like ‘give me a striker.’ We were looking at Li Jingliang but he’s got a fight coming up, Kevin Holland, we were going to take that one but I wanted the Madison Square Garden card and he wanted to fight a little sooner.”

Stephen Thompson says he has made it known to the UFC that he wants to face a striker next. For ‘Wonderboy,’ he says that is a big reason as to why he won’t take the Rakhmonov fight as he doesn’t want to fight another grappler for the third straight fight.

“Not at all. It doesn’t make sense for me to face another heavy grappler. Let me work on my craft a little more, especially when it comes to wrestling,” Thompson added. “They were pushing it, but it just doesn’t make sense, the fans didn’t want to see it either. They are like ‘dude, give Stephen a striker, someone who is going to strike with him.’ It is what it is, that is not a fight that interests me at this point.”

Who would you like to see Stephen Thompson fight next now that he isn’t interested in Shavkat Rakhmonov?