UFC welterweight Stephen Thompson says he will consider top prospect Khamzat Chimaev “the real deal” only if he beats Leon Edwards.
Thompson was one of the top-ranked welterweights who were called out by Chimaev after he beat Gerald Meerschaert in September, but Thompson turned down the fight citing him being far above Chimaev in the rankings. The UFC was eventually able to book Chimaev against Leon Edwards, and the two will meet on Fight Island on January 20 after their original booking for UFC Vegas 17 fell through due to COVID-19. Thompson, meanwhile, went on to fight No. 11 ranked Geoff Neal and won a decision.
One of the top welterweights in the game, Thompson has been vocal as of late about not being satisfied that the UFC is giving Chimaev such a huge push when he only has one win at 170lbs in the UFC, over Rhys McKee (who has a 0-2 UFC record). Speaking to TMZ Sports, Thompson explained why he isn’t buying the hype of Chimaev yet, admitting that he would be sold on him only if he can go in there and beat Edwards.
“Well you know, there is a lot of hype around him at his point. He’s won three fights, he’s had one fight at welterweight (against McKee). He’s ranked No. 15 right now. Now he’s going to be fighting a guy whos ranked higher than me (No. 3 Leon Edwards). It’s definitely a big jump up for him and a test for Khamzat,” Thompson said.
“At this point, I’m not really sold yet. I just haven’t seen enough, and on paper, Leon Edwards wins this all day. So I’m going for my man Edwards. But he may go out there and prove us all wrong, you never know, and he’ll be the real deal. I will say he is the real deal if he goes out there and does work. But at this point, I haven’t seen enough.”
With Thompson and Chimaev both chasing a title shot against the winner of Kamaru Usman vs. Gilbert Burns, don’t be surprised if these two do end up fighting sometime in 2021 with a title shot on the line. But it will only happen if Chimaev beats Edwards.
Do you think Stephen Thompson will fight Khamzat Chimaev sometime in 2021?