Stephen Thompson is back! After 10 months away from the Octagon, a lot has happened. And because of that, ‘Wonderboy’ likes where he stands in the division.
This Saturday night at UFC Nashville, Thompson is set to headline the event opposite former WEC and UFC lightweight champion, Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis.
However, it would be a lie to say that Thompson doesn’t have the bigger picture in mind which is getting back to the championship scene where he found himself for the majority of 2016 to 2017.
At the time, Tyron Woodley was the champion who Thompson wound up facing twice in a row in two incredibly close outings. Unfortunately for Wonderboy, neither were scored in his favor.
Just recently, Woodley would end up dropping the title to Kamaru Usman at UFC 235 thus giving Thompson new life in the division.
“Having a new champion, I knew it was going to be better for my career,” Thompson told MMA Junkie. “Nobody wants to see Thompson vs. Woodley 3, and I kind of understood that. I would have to have two or three more fights before I even get that shot again. This, now that we’ve got a new champion, is going to be a faster way up.
“The division has changed dramatically since the last time I fought. Got a new champion, Darren Till got knocked out by a guy that I’ve already beat (Jorge Masvidal). It’s up in the air. I’m ranked No. 4 right now, so any one of us could be fighting for that title again.”
But for Thompson to get another opportunity at the title that has eluded him so far in his 18 fight career, he’ll have to get through Showtime.
“This is definitely going to be a straight-up ninja fight,” Thompson said. “He’s very flashy, and I like to throw different angles and different kicks, too. So it’s going to be whoever is the best ninja that night.
“I know he’s very crafty. He’s got good jiu-jitsu, good wrestling, and I’m prepared wherever the fight goes. I’m expecting and the fans are expecting just a barnburner, and that’s what we’re going to give them.”
The welterweight division has opened up once again at the top now that it has a new champion, and depending on how Thompson performs in his next so many outings, he could be fighting for the title before we know it.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 3/20/2019