Later this evening, UFC welterweight Number 2 contender, Stephen Thompson will meet Number 1 ranked Rory MacDonald in what is widely considered to be a welterweight title eliminator. The 33-year-old standout has been making waves with his highlight reel finishes and gutsy performances for the entirety of his career, culminating with a marvelous TKO finish of Johny Hendricks earlier this year.
With a win over MacDonald tonight, Thompson says he'll not only call for his shot at the belt, he plans to do it with a level of intensity we've yet to see from him. In his own words, he's going to "put his foot down." In a recent interview with the Three Amigos Podcast, Stephen talked about his disappointment at being passed over for title contention, putting a little pep in his post-fight interview and how he and Chris Weidman have found themselves to be part of one big family.
"In the welterweight division, you have, of course, Rory at Number 1, and he fought for the title last July. You have me at Number 2, and then Number 3 is Tyron Woodley, and he's fighting for the title. I mean, if you go back and look, Tyron was supposed to fight Johny Hendricks, who was ranked Number 2. That didn't happen, and that was Hendricks' fault. The UFC promised Tyron the title shot. After my last fight, and being the guy that beat Johny Hendricks, I thought they were going to give me the title shot, but hats off to the UFC for actually doing what they said they were gonna do. But, it does kind of break my heart that I didn't get it, obviously.
It is what it is, you know? That's part of the game and sometimes you've got to deal with it. Everybody's wanted me to fight for the title after that last fight, but I guess I've got to prove to the fans and the UFC...maybe I've got to face one more guy before I step out there. I'm gonna do that. I'm a fighter, and whoever they want me to fight, I'm gonna do it, but a win over Rory...I'm definitely demanding that title shot after that."
Thompson has always been a respectful, low-drama guy, not one for trash talk or bad blood scenarios, but with so many fighters demonstrating that making noise and demanding fights really does work, he's come to terms with the fact that he'll need to dial up the intensity a few more notches with his callout, in the event that he wins. We're not talking full on heel-turn, but adding some edge to his post-fight interview is something he's been thinking about.
"You know, if I started talking trash now, people would be like, ‘Stephen, just be quiet. We know that's not you.' Obviously, I don't want to look past anybody. Rory is the guy I've got to face this Saturday, but with a win over him, and I think it would have to be a spectacular win, I'm gonna put my foot down. It's something that the UFC has to give me. If they don't, then something is wrong."
Every team considers their teammates to be extended family, but what about when you actually end up with significand family ties through marriage? Thompson recently found himself in that very situation when his brother married Chris Weidman's sister just a few weeks ago. Chris and Stephen have been sparring partners for a few years now, so the family extension is a welcome one, indeed.
"I don't know if anyone knows this, but the Thompson family and the Weidman family are now one big family. My brother ended up marrying Chris Weidman's sister a few weeks ago. They had the big wedding that pretty much had everybody from Long Island down in Simpsonville, SC. They know how to party. We had a great time."
Stephen went on to detail how the two met:
"It wasn't until I was out there for the Lyoto Machida camp that my brother Tony asked to come up and hang out with us. I talked to Chris and he was like, ‘Sure, yeah. Bring him in.' I didn't even know Chris had a sister at that time. Next thing you know, they ended up meeting each other, and it was over from there."
There were several other topics discussed in this excellent interview:
- What his mindset is like going into the last few days before the fight
- If it was a challenge to incorporate other aspects (grappling) into his skillset considering his success using a striking-centric approach
- If he feels Rory's durability adds an "X-Factor" to his skillset
- How much of an advantage he feels his previous training at Tristar will be in this bout
- If he feels the rankings are a waste since most times they aren't used effectively to set up the title pecking order properly
- If we're going to see some added fire in his his title callout if he wins
- His take on judging issues
- Thoughts on taking superfight catchweight bouts
- His take on the new weight cutting guidelines
- If it matters to him being the odds favorite or the underdog
- If he ever plans on changing his nickname
You can listen to Stephen's segment at the 1:20:20 mark of the audio HERE, or via the embedded player below. Remember, if you're looking for us on SoundCloud or iTunes, we're under the MMA Nation name. Follow our Twitter accounts: Stephie Haynes, Three Amigos Podcast, Geroge Lockhart, Iain Kiddand Mookie Alexander or our Facebook fan page, Three Amigos Podcast.