“Anytime. Anywhere.” This is the mindset that Stephen Thompson has had and continues to have. The 16-fight UFC veteran has continued with his title intentions despite being just short on the scorecards against then-champion Tyron Woodley. However, the dreams of becoming UFC champion are far from over.
Thompson currently sits at #5 in the Welterweight rankings. He would defend his spot in the top 5, gaining momentum from outpointing Vicente Luque and Geoff Neal in masterful performances. After a flawless contest against Neal in December, he would campaign for a title shot.
Thompson For Title 2021
“Wonderboy” is the only man in the top 5 to not have fought the reigning champion in Kamaru Usman. Thompson would play off this perspective and his 2 straight wins over rising contenders to make his case for another title opportunity. However, it would not come.
Shortly after Leon Edwards vs Belal Muhammad was declared a no-contest (due to an eyepoke), it would be announced that Jorge Masvidal would be getting his hands on a title shot, rematching ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ in his home state of Florida at UFC 261.
This matchmaking came off as a shock to welterweight’s finest. Masvidal dropped a dominant decision loss to Usman in his last fight, not having won since Nate Diaz in 2019. Perennial contenders, Colby Covington and Leon Edwards were among those who were disappointed in the fight being made. This was unfortunate for the ‘NMF’ as well but he looks forward to seeing it play out.
“Nobody’s really saying a whole lot about me in the top five. Leon Edwards doesn’t want any, Colby Covington doesn’t. Hopefully, seeing how it goes with Masvidal and Usman. I know Jorge Masvidal mentioned he wanted to defend the title against me if he had gotten the title. We’ll see.”
“I would love to go out there and fight somebody in the top five but I’m keeping my fingers crossed, staying in shape and see what happens.”
With UFC 260’s co-main event Volkanovski vs Ortega postponed due to team Volkanovski testing positive for COVID-19, Thompson is highly interested in being a back-up fighter for Usman vs Masvidal should someone be out of the fight, come April 24th.
Recently, there has been a higher influx of fighters being official back-ups for title fights. Michael Chandler notably stepped on the scale at championship weight to be a savior of sorts should Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Justin Gaethje have fallen through at UFC 254. Glover Teixeira and Manel Kape would also sign up as official back-up fighters for the main events of UFC 256 and UFC 259.
“I would love to be a backup for those guys.” said Thompson. “If somebody gets injured, coach gets COVID, I would love to jump out there and face off against these guys.”
“They’re both great athletes. The guys I wanted to fight to begin with. Anybody in the top five can get it. So, yeah, I would love to do that to be one of those back-up fighters for sure.”
To The Rescue
Thompson was originally targeting a return to the Octagon in May because he was recovering from a knee injury suffered from his last fight in December. However, “Wonderboy” says he is ready to save the day should the Welterweight main event be in trouble.