Stephen Thompson concerned about brain health, hopes for August return

Stephen-Thompson
PhotoCred: LowKick MMA

UFC Nashville was headlined by a pretty unique match-up, to say the least. The main event of the promotion’s return to the state of Tennessee saw former WEC and UFC lightweight champion, as well as former featherweight hopeful, Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis make his 170-pound welterweight debut. His opponent would be none other than the perennial top five contender, two-time welterweight title challenger, ‘Wonderboy,’ Stephen Thompson.

Shockingly, after a pretty dominant showing from Thompson, Pettis would be the one to connect late in the second round to score the massive knockout win. It was the Karate specialist’s first time losing via knockout and Pettis’ first time winning via strikes since January 2013 when he TKO’d Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone with a body kick.

Having not been all too active as of late with the Pettis fight being his only contest in a roughly 10-month span, Wonderboy has an idea of when he wants to get back in there.

“Possibly August,” Thompson told Bloody Elbow. “I’ll be able to have some contact with sparring at the end of June. I’m staying in shape, but I still want to keep this *points at head* right. Where I can get some good sparring in and a good training camp, possibly August I’m thinking.”

After suffering such a devastating knockout loss however, Thompson wants to approach things a bit more carefully as he continues onward in his career.

“Michael Bisping, in one of his last fights, he stepped out there too soon,” Thompson said. “He had a brutal fight with Georges St-Pierre and then real quick jumped in against Kelvin Gastelum and just got put away. If you do that, if you step out there too soon… This is your livelihood.

“If you want to do this for years to come, you have to take care of yourself. You can’t condition the brain. You can condition the body, but you can’t condition the brain. You have to take it slow.

“Before this fight with Anthony Pettis, I was bumped back up to No. 3 [in the rankings],” he continued. “A good win over Pettis would have shot me into title contention. Maybe one more fight after that,” he said. “I guess God has other plans. I’m not giving up on the title. I’m 36-years-old and I still have a ton of fight in me… It may take me a few more fights but the way the UFC and the welterweight division is changing, anything can happen. I’m staying positive and I’m working hard.”

For Wonderboy, he’s now 1-3-1 in his last five fights with his lone win coming over Jorge Masvidal at UFC 217 in November 2017.

This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 4/24/2019