This time, Stephen Thompson left Madison Square Garden a winner.
The kickboxer from South Carolina went the distance with UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley a year ago this weekend in New York, before losing their rematch four months later.
But Saturday night, “Wonderboy” got back in the win column, playing his game in a masterful manner in a unanimous decision over the always-tough Jorge Masvidal. The judges’ scores were 30-26 and a pair of 30-27s.
Wonderboy dictated the tempo with his attacks from awkward angles, landing kicks high and low and popping Masvidal with overhands.
Masvidal, for his part, had his moments in the bout, connecting with a big left hand in the second round.
But he could quite never push Thompson out of his rhythm. Masvidal tried to up the tempo in the final round and midway through, it almost turned into a firefight. But Thompson, with the fight all but in hand, managed to reset and fight at his pace the rest of the way.
“He’s very resilient, a very tough guy, I knew if there was going to be a knockout it was going to come in the early rounds,” Thompson said. “He was definitely ranked No. 4 for a reason.”
With the victory, Thompson improved to 14-2-1. He’s only lost once in his past 10 fights, going 8-1-1 along the way. Masvidal (32-13) has dropped two straight and is 3-4 in his past seven.