Stephen Thompson Explains Why He Took Shavkat Rakhmonov Fight

Thompson previously turned down Rakhmonov but now accepted the matchup.

Stephen Thompson and Shavkat Rakhmonov
Stephen Thompson and Shavkat Rakhmonov's Instagram

Stephen Thompson has opened up on why he took the fight against Shavkat Rakhmonov at UFC 296 in December.

Thompson has been trying to get a fight since his bout against Michel Pereira in July didn’t happen as the Brazilian missed weight. After some time trying to get a scrap, Thompson agreed to face Rakhmonov which was because of a few reasons.

“There was Shavkat. I know he was supposed to fight Gastelum… He didn’t have anybody. I saw him on social media, I know he’s ranked above me, and it just worked out for the both of us,” Thompson said on The MMA Hour. “It was a year-and-a-half ago, maybe, I think, the UFC wanted me to fight Shavkat, and to be honest with you, I didn’t know who he was at the time. I think he’s only had, like, five fights in the UFC. Obviously, I turned it down, I didn’t know who the guy was, and then after that I tuned in and saw him fight Neil Magny, saw him fight Geoff Neal, and I’m like, ‘Bro, this dude’s legit,’ and now he’s ranked above me.

“So anybody that’s ranked above me, I told the UFC I’m down for,” Thompson continued. “This is the guy I think could possibly be welterweight champ at some point. He’s that good, undefeated, I think he has a 100 percent finish rate, so what better guy to go out there and show the world and the UFC that I deserve a title shot by fighting this guy?”

Thompson eyes a title shot with a win

As Stephen Thompon says, he wanted the chance to fight someone ranked above him, and Shavkat Rakhmonov is that.

Also, Thompson believes if he can go out and pull off the upset and beat Rakhmonov, it could very well earn him a title shot, which he’s after.

“The dude is, what, 17-0?” Thompson said. “He’s 17-0, but I think his most notable guys were Neil Magny and Geoff Neal, in the UFC anyway. Yeah, I think there’s a reason why he’s up there. He’s a great fighter, he’s undefeated, there’s a lot of undefeated guys in the UFC. You would think that they would put those guys together, because we have so many undefeated, Ian Garry, he’s undefeated. You have Shavkat. … So what better guy to show the UFC that I deserve a No. 1 shot or a title than to fight the dude that nobody wants to fight.”

Stephen Thompson is coming off a TKO win over Kevin Holland last December.

Published on September 28, 2023 at 10:52 am
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