Stephen Thompson Gives Thoughts on Welterweight Title Picture, Wants UFC 244 Fight

Stephen Thompson is getting closer to returning from injury and attended UFC 240 to give media members an update on his condition and upcoming return.

Edmonton, AB – Stephen Thompson has been sidelined for a while after undergoing knee surgery following his loss to Darren Till. However, at UFC 240, he gave his optimal return date and some opponent suggestions.

“Wonderboy” is back to normal after his knee injury and is planning on being a part of several other fighters’ training camps before taking part in his own.

“Everything’s good. It healed up great. I’m actually helping a few fighters right now for the Contender Series in a few weeks. And I’ll be heading to New York to help Chris Weidman get ready for his fight at 205. Everything’s feeling good. Back training hard at full force. Hopefully, we’ll be fighting at Madison Square Garden in November. That’s the plan. Don’t know who yet, but we’ll see.”

When pressed on his options for an opponent, Thompson gave a pair of suggestions.

“I know me and RDA [Rafael dos Anjos] are both coming off a loss. Might be some good time for him to heal up. Maybe make that happen at MSG. That would be cool. I know Robbie Lawler’s got a fight coming up this coming week and we’ll see how that goes. I’m looking for someone in the top five and I’m ready to get back out there and do it again.”

The welterweight division is in a much different state since Thompson last fought, with several rightful challengers to a new champion’s throne.

“[Rafael dos Anjos] fought a striker in Leon Edwards and Leon made him work all five rounds. I think Leon Edwards is on a seven-fight win streak right now. Eight-fight win streak? Wow. So he could be possibly fighting for the title as well. I know everybody’s been talking about [Jorge] Masvidal getting that next title shot. But he’s got two wins and the third fight was the loss against me at MSG. I think there are guys out there more deserving of the title but he’s put on some good shows and knocked out some good people. You never know.”

While he might believe Masvidal does not deserve the title shot at the moment, he couldn’t help but be impressed with his record-setting KO.

“I thought it was awesome. The funny thing is, he planned that. He knew what he was doing. Everyone was thinking, ‘That’s just a fluke thing.’ But he’s got footage doing that in the gym in the Octagon. So he knew what he was doing.”

Thompson has seen his own specific preparations come to fruition like Masvidal in the Askren fight, and touched on that anecdote.

“When I fought Johny Hendricks, we knew exactly what he was going to do during that fight. No disrespect to him or to take anything away from him, but it was almost easy, to be honest with you. That first round, he was looking to take me down. We worked my takedown defense, kept me distance. We knew he was looking for that one-hitter quitter punch with his right hand. It just fell into place. Everything worked out great.”

Of the three-headed monster clamoring for a shot at Kamaru Usman, Stephen Thompson believes Leon Edwards is the one who should receive the opportunity rather than Colby Covington or Jorge Masvidal.

“Right now, obviously Leon Edwards. He’s on an eight-fight win streak. He’s doing very well in the division. So at the top, maybe him. Then under him, maybe Masvidal because he’s got some great knockouts, great fighters. It really depends on what the UFC and the fans want. The UFC’s going towards what the fans want nowadays so it could be Masvidal. But I think Leon Edwards has definitely proven he deserves a shot at the title.”

Towards the tail-end of Tyron Woodley’s reign as champion, the welterweight division slowed down. But it’s now been rejuvenated in front of Thompson’s eyes.

“The welterweight division was stagnant there for a minute because we didn’t really know who was going to get the next shot. It was kind of boring. There was a hold-up. No one knew if Colby Covington was getting it, or if it was going to Kamaru Usman. Now there is a new champion and the welterweight division’s coming up now. I don’t know what the whole deal was with him fighting for the title, if he was ready for it. I don’t know the ins and outs.”

If Stephen Thompson gets a fight on UFC 244 at MSG, you’ll find out on Cageside Press. Watch the rest of Wonderboy’s media scrum above.