Stephen Thompson is a little confused about his main event booking against Darren Till at UFC Liverpool.
“Wonderboy” admitted that he had no idea who the Liverpudlian was when he was first approached about a potential bout. At that time, Thompson had broken his two thumbs in his win over Jorge Masvidal, which made a meeting with Till out of the question.
“To be honest with you, I didn’t even know who this guy was when I was approached,” Thompson told Ariel Helwani on the latest episode of The MMA Hour.
“I was like, ‘Who is this Darren Till?’ He got a name after knocking out Cerrone, which I don’t [understand]. Cerrone was on a three-fight losing streak. He was knocked out in the fight before against Jorge Masvidal, who I just beat.”
Thompson admitted that he had an issue with taking on Till due to his own No. 1 ranking spot. He felt he would be taking on a higher ranked opponent than the Team Kaobon welterweight.
“So who is the number seven guy? Why is he jumping over everyone else to fight the number one contender? Why am I not fighting the number two guy? When I was coming up in the rankings, and I was number two, I had to fight the number one to get that title,” he explained.
“That was another reason that I turned down the Darren Till fight right off the bat, because I wanted that fight with RDA. That’s not happening, so there really is no one left to fight but this guy, Darren Till.”
Another thing Thompson is having trouble with is the location of the contest — Till’s hometown, Liverpool:
“It’s in his backyard, which didn’t make sense to me either. I said, ‘No, I don’t even know who this guy is’. But, you know what, he’s asking for it and he’s definitely going to get the best Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson on May 27.”
Considered one of the best pure strikers to ever step into the Octagon, Thompson revealed that he hasn’t been blown away by what he’s seen of “The Gorilla”.
“Everybody is saying that he’s a great striker,” Thompson said.
“From what I’ve seen he keeps his right side forward, he throws his left hand, throws his left leg and likes to throw a few elbows, but to be honest with you, I’m not very impressed by Darren Till — I think Masvidal is a better fighter. I think he brings more to the table than Darren Till.
“Darren Till is known. Does he have four fights in the UFC now? The first three guys…I don’t know who those guys are.”
Despite being unimpressed with Till, Thompson acknowledged the Brit’s knockout power.
“Everyone in the UFC is good. If you’re at the lowest end or the highest end, you have a chance to get knocked out and put to sleep. From what I’ve seen of Darren Till, he’s very durable. He likes to throw that left hand so he has a chance to knock people out. Everyone’s got that chance so I still have to be on my Ps and Qs when I step out there in Liverpool.”
Thompson thinks there are other welterweights that are more deserving of a fight with a No. 1 contender. He thinks Till has been given the opportunity because of his ability with a microphone rather than his ability in the Octagon.
“I know they’re trying to push this guy. I don’t know if it’s the fact that they don’t have anyone else to push from that area or Europe. He’s definitely a talker and that’s kind of where UFC is heading. They like to push those guys that go out there and run their mouth a little bit.
“I think there are more guys in the division right now that are more deserving of the fight with the No. 1 contender. It is what it is. All I want to do is what I do best: go out there and put a hand or a foot upside somebody’s head.”
Although he doesn’t think making the fight was a mistake on the UFC’s part, “Wonderboy” does think that Till has made a mistake by constantly calling for the fight ahead of it’s booking.
“I’ve had a lot of people say that to me, you know, ‘If they wanted to promote this guy why would they put him in there with you?’” he said.
“I don’t think it’s the UFC. I think he is set in his ways and he wants to face me and nobody else. He wants to jump up, but I don’t think he’s thinking about the rest of his career. I did the same thing. After my very first fight in the UFC, they jumped me up for that fight with Matt Brown. If I could go back and change that I wouldn’t. But, I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for that loss.
“Of course I’m not going to Darren Till lightly. He’s a good guy, but I think it’s a mistake.”
Thompson laughed off Till’s early prediction of a third-round knockout.
“All I can do is laugh at that. He’s very confident in himself, which is something you’ve got to have, but sometimes you can be a little overconfident. I think he’s a little overconfident,” he said.
“He hasn’t really been tested. He knocked out a guy who isn’t a true welterweight; he was a 155er who got knocked out in the fight before.
“[Till] has got that hype around him so let him think that. Let him be overconfident and let’s see what happens when he steps out there with me. He better be on his Ps and Qs when he steps in with Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson.’”