While he’s preparing for a top tier welterweight bout against Jorge Masvidal at UFC 217, ‘Wonderboy’ already has his sights set a little further down the road.
It’s one thing for a fighter to have their call-out planned for after their next win. It’s something else altogether to tell everyone about it ahead of time. But, while he’s not exactly calling his shot, that’s the position top welterweight contender Stephen Thompson is placing himself in.
‘Wonderboy’ is getting set to fight Jorge Masvidal on the PPV portion of UFC 217, which goes down November 4th at Madison Square Garden. It’s a fight that will leave the winner in grasp of a shot at the welterweight title, although for Thompson that comes with an obvious caveat. Having already faced champion Tyron Woodley twice – in less than thrilling contests – without winning the belt, Thompson would likely need pretty special circumstances to warrant a third shot.
But if that’s the case, it sounds like the former pro-kickboxer has a plan. With Woodley’s recently announced hiatus to recover from a nagging shoulder injury, Thompson told Submission Radio that he’s looking for an interim title fight with Robbie Lawler.
“I haven’t really talked to anybody about that with the UFC,” Thompson said, when asked about a potential third title shot with a win over Masvidal. “The only thing that I know is that I’m facing off against Jorge Masvidal. But, what I believe I have to do come November 4th is – to be able to stay for that title contention, to be able to fight for the title – is put on a good show and put out a good W, an exciting W come November 4th against Jorge Masvidal.
“We’ve been kind of going back and forth with me and Robbie Lawler. I was ranked number one, then he’s number one, then we’re both number one. So hopefully a good win over this… You know, I understand Tyron is out for a little while, so hopefully we’ll be able to fight against Robbie Lawler, maybe for an interim welterweight title against him for that belt. There’s also word RDA will want him to fight for the title too, so I really don’t know. I gotta go out there and face Jorge first and see what happens there before I can think about really what’s going on next. But it is in the back of mind.”
As for how he’ll be approaching ‘Gamebred’ to get that “good W”? Thompson wasn’t willing to give too many details, other than that he’s watching out for Masvidal’s clinch and looking to be a lot more active than he was in his fights against Woodley.
“Well, I don’t want to put anything out there,” Thompson responded, to questions about holes in Masvidal’s striking game. “He’s probably got guys listening to this podcast (laughs) and stuff. But, he’s a great Muay Thai stylist and his clinch work is one of the best. I mean, he’s one of the guys that goes out there and he just brings it, man. And he defeats a lot of these guys because he’s a very tough opponent and he just outworks them. You know, his cardio, he’s got cardio for days. He’s been a 155’er, so he’s not really big at 170, but he’s got cardio for days and breaks a lot of these guys because of that.
“His clinch work is one of the top in the welterweight division, probably in the UFC, and I haven’t seen anybody better in his clinch than Anderson Silva, who’s known for that. So, he’s got great knees and great elbows. And I think he’s gonna press forward like he normally does and try to get me into that clinch, maybe take me down here and there, because usually everybody tries to do that against me. But, he’s very well-rounded, so I gotta be on point every step of the way when I step out there against him November 4th. And I’ve been working religiously on my wrestling and my Jiu Jitsu just in case the fight goes there. I’m ready for wherever it goes.”
“A lot of fight fans are more excited about our fight than anything else, so we both have responsibility to go out there and really put on a show. And unlike Tyron, this guy comes forward. He comes to fight and it’s got fireworks written all over it.”
“You’re gonna see more of Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson than you saw in my last two fights against Tyron. I love it when guys come forward, which is something you didn’t see during the Tyron Woodley fight. But that’s just the way Masvidal is. He comes walking forward, he’s not afraid to press the action, which enables me to use my arsenal a little bit better, to use my kicks, to use my angles. So yeah, man, you’re gonna see a more exciting fight from me November 4th.”
UFC 217 is set to feature a surplus of championship-level action. With Michael Bisping preparing to defend his middleweight title against Georges St-Pierre in the main event, Cody Garbrandt defending the bantamweight title against T.J. Dillashaw in the co-main, and Joanna Jedrzejczyk defending her strawweight title against Rose Namajunas to make a total of three title fights in one night. Thompson’s bout against Masvidal is currently expected to open the PPV card.