Back in the win column after UFC 244, Stephen Thompson isn’t about to give up on his title dreams.
New York, NY — Stephen Thompson returned to the scene of the crime at UFC 244.
Thompson, who defeated Vicente Luque at the UFC’s 500th event on Saturday night, had twice before fought in Madison Square Garden. The last time, against Jorge Masvidal, went his way, though ‘Gamebred’ had managed to leapfrog him into the main event at UFC 244.
At least Saturday night went his way. His first victory after two straight losses. Getting back in the win column was awesome, Thompson told reporters including Cageside Press following the event. “I trained as hard as I could for Vicente Luque. I know he’s ranked number fourteen, but I think he’s the toughest guy I’ve faced in the octagon. Definitely the hardest head as well. I ended up doing a number on my hand.”
Expanding on the injury, Thompson revealed that “second round, I ended up smoking him clean in the forehead.”
“I didn’t feel it til I walked back after the second round. Third round, I knew it was hurt, but I threw it anyway,” he admitted. “At the end of it, I decided to start moving a little bit to pick my shots, because I knew it was pretty bad out there in the octagon. You know it’s pretty bad when you feel it in the octagon, because normally you’ve got your adrenaline going.”
There was a different feeling heading into the fight. A knockout loss to Anthony Pettis lit a fire under ‘Wonderboy.’ “I’d never been knocked out before. My last fight, that and my second fight with Matt Brown is the only fight I felt like I’ve ever lost,” he said Saturday.
“The ones against [Tyron] Woodley and [Darren] Till, I felt like I won those fights. So it did light a fire under me,” he continued. “When you get knocked out, you go back home wondering “why didn’t I see this? What’s going on? Am I slowing down, am I getting too old for this game?’ So all this stuff’s kind of going through your head, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to tell yourself ‘No.’ I’ll be 37 in February but I consider myself a young 37-year old.”
Aside from the extra motivation, Thompson went into the fight against Luque like any other as a result. And he’s still ready to push forward, with the help of his coaches and teammates. “I’m not giving up on that title. I know I’m ranked number nine, or eight, but I’m not giving up on it. I know I’m the best in this division, I’ve fought the best in this division. The only guys I haven’t faced are the top two right now. I faced Tyron twice, Till, Johnny Hendricks, [Jake] Ellenberger, [Robert] Whittaker.”
Who he fights next, however, remains a question. Thompson would have liked to have faced the winner of Masvidal vs. Diaz, UFC 244’s main event. But it does not appear to be in the cards. “Give my body time to heal up when I get back home, and we’ll go from there,” he finished.
Watch the full UFC 244 post-fight press conference with Stephen Thompson above!