The UFC is about to get a lot more Karate Kid again. Former UFC welterweight title challenger Stephen Thompson is ready to make his octagon return. Thompson was put on the sidelines following his majority decision loss to Tyron Woodley at March’s UFC 209 due to a knee injury which required surgery. Despite Jorge Masvidal saying Thompson’s injury was fake, “Wonderboy” spoke to BJPENN.com’s Chris Taylor yesterday evening where he revealed that he has been cleared by doctors and is now eyeing a November return to action at super stacked UFC 217.
“Yea, so I got cleared. You know the doctors said I was good on Wednesday. So now I am getting back into the swing of things. I am training again, so I think I should be ready to go in November. That is the plan. I know that me and (Jorge) Masvidal verbally said that we would fight. I haven’t heard nothing from the UFC yet. So hopefully they will jump on board and want to make that fight happen. You know I’ve been out for 5 or 6 months now. It seems like I’ve been out forever man. I am just itching to get back out there and do it again. So hopefully the UFC will jump on board and want to get us on the [UFC 217] card. That is the plan anyway.”
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There’s always a risk with fighters returning too quickly after sustaining an injury, but Taylor asked Stephen Thompson if his knee is now feeling back to 100%. Not only is it healed up, but Thompson went on to say that he learned a valuable lesson.
“Oh yea, it is doing much better. It was the MCL that took so long. They went in and did surgery and took out some meniscus and the MCL healed up, but it took forever for it to start feeling right, you know kicking wise. And everybody knows that is my thing, I like to kick. So I wanted to make sure that I was able to do that without any pain. Of course I didn’t want to jump out there to soon. You know that is how I ended up staying out so long the first time I tore stuff in my left leg. I didn’t listen to my doctor and ended up injuring it again. I went back out there too soon and it forced me out of action for three years. So I was like screw that, I am not doing that again (rushing back). It was a lesson learned and this time I am doing it right and making sure everything is healed up right before I get back out there.”
Thompson realized that he will need a couple of wins over some top five guys in order to receive another title shot.
“You know I have to work my way back up and I understand that. I want to fight some of the top guys. The guys in the top five and Masvidal is game. He was actually the one who called me out on social media. So I was like ‘Yea man I would be glad to fight you’, so hopefully the UFC gets behind that and we can make something happen for November.”
If the UFC is not interested in booking the Masvidal fight, “Wonderboy” would be more than happy to fight former champion Robbie Lawler next.
“I wouldn’t mind that at all [a fight with Lawler] to be honest with you. I would love to fight Lawler. That is who I was planning on fighting before I got matched up with Tyron. Robbie defended the title the most times since Georges St-Pierre. At one point I was really focused on fighting Lawler so it would be really cool to actually step out in the octagon with him. With that said, I did tell Masvidal I would fight him. We verbally agreed to that so I don’t want to go back on that. Plus, from what I’m hearing Robbie is likely to be fighting for the title next, which he deserves, so right now I have Masvidal on my mind man.”
No matter who is on the other end of those spin kicks, it’s clear that Stephen Thompson only has one goal in mind.
“I can assure you that I haven’t given up on that title man. It is going to be mine. I just have to work my way back up there and get it.”
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 8/11/2017.