Stephen Thompson has spent most of his MMA career fighting in the UFC. At just 5-0, ‘Wonderboy’ has been kicking the competition ever since.
Thompson has went through murderer’s row, facing the likes of Robert Whittaker, Rory Macdonald, Darren Till, Jorge Masvidal, Anthony Pettis just to name a few. Two of his past opponents will take on each other this weekend at UFC 260. The co-main event will feature Tyron Woodley vs Vicente Luque.
Woodley vs Thompson: Parts 1 & 2
Thompson would go the distance twice against then-champion Woodley, back-to-back. In his first title opportunity at UFC 205, the duo would earn ‘fight of the night’ honors along with sketching a majority draw on the judge’s scorecards. With no winner announced, Thompson and Woodley would prepare for a rematch.
A few months later, it was announced that UFC 209 would have the rivals run it back in the main event slot. The whole point of the rematch was to find out who was clearly the best welterweight in the world. However, the chess match that played out inside the Octagon would be even more difficult to score.
Over the course of an extremely competitive 25 minutes, Woodley would edge out Thompson on the scorecards just barely, with one judge scoring it a draw once again. It wouldn’t be without controversy though, as many fans had the challenger winning.
The result of the two fights may not have ended in the favor of the karate master, but Thompson would wax on and wax off the experience with a rebounding win over Jorge Masvidal later that year.
Thompson vs Luque
Vicente Luque would also be a redeeming victory for Thompson, who was on a two-fight losing streak to Anthony Pettis and Darren Till prior to UFC 244.
Despite being knocked down multiple times by Thompson, an undead Luque would survive and keep moving forward, landing his own array of good shots at times. The Brazilian brawler wouldn’t capture the victory, being edged out in vintage ‘Wonderboy’ fashion.
This wasn’t the end for ‘The Silent Assasin’. After the defeat snapped his 6-fight winning streak, Luque would rage on and win 2 fights in a row. To prove himself as one of the best in the world at 170lbs, the rising prospect would be given the chance to face a former champion in Tyron Woodley.
Thompson, who has spent a total of 65 minutes in Octagon time with the two fighters, would go on to give his insight on the matchup.
“I like Tyron [Woodley], I like Vicente Luque. [I’ve] faced both of these guys.” Thompson said. “I fought Tyron in a different mindset in his heyday. I was his first title defense. I don’t feel like his mindset isn’t there like it used to be. He doesn’t have that fire anymore.”
“So, I’m kind of leaning towards Vicente Luque.” said Thompson. “He’s very tough, he’s very young, he’s got that fire. He wants to go out there and win the title. He’s been wrecking dudes. I was his last loss and has had two fights since and dominated his opponents. So, I’m really excited to see that fight.”
The Chosen One’s Fall From Grace
Woodley hasn’t been on the greatest of runs as of late. Since losing his welterweight strap to Kamaru Usman at UFC 235, Woodley would go on to hit a slump. “The Chosen One” would drop his next two bouts against rival Colby Covington and future title challenger, Gilbert Burns.
There has been much critique on the former champion after losing 15 straight rounds in a row to the division’s elite. It is still an unsolved mystery on why Woodley hasn’t been performing like he has done so dominantly in the past. Woodley is looking to regain his former self and get back to winning ways this weekend. It all depends on which Woodley we’ll get to see.
“I hope Tyron comes out with a different mindset and ready to rock and roll. That would just make out to be a great fight. But I’m kind of leaning towards Vicente Luque on that one.”