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Stephen Thompson targets UFC 244 return, wants opponent ranked ‘in the top five’

“Wonderboy” is looking to make his return to the Octagon in November.

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Nashville-Thompson vs Pettis Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

In an ideal world, Stephen Thompson would’ve been headlining (or at least been a part of) UFC Greenville card in his home state of South Carolina. Instead, he was knocked out by Anthony Pettis in March, and rendered unable to make next week’s show.

With all of that said, “Wonderboy” does have a target date in mind for his next appearance, and it’s at his “home away from home.”

“I would love to get on that Madison Square Garden card – that would be awesome,” Thompson said at UFC 238 on Saturday (via MMAjunkie). “That’s kind of like my home away from home, anyway.”

The UFC’s return to MSG is UFC 244 on November 2nd. Thompson challenged for the welterweight title on the promotion’s inaugural show at the world-renowned arena, taking Tyron Woodley to a draw. The following year, he outclassed Jorge Masvidal to win a unanimous decision at UFC 217. Injury following his 2018 loss to Darren Till prevented him from being on last year’s MSG card, but he’s very much wanting to return to New York and take on an elite opponent.

“I was actually wanting somebody, anybody, in the top five, to be honest with you,” he said. “(Rafael dos Anjos), (Santiago) Ponzinibbio, I don’t know if (Darren) Till has anything coming up. Anybody in that top group would be awesome. But we’ll see what happens.

“I’m back into training, by the way. I’m not doing any heavy lifting or heavy sparring or anything, but doing mostly skills and stuff. But, man, I’m itching to bits to step back out there and do it again. I don’t care who it’s with.”

Thompson (14-4-1) has just one win in his last five bouts, and the Pettis fight marked the first knockout loss of his career. He intends to take the summer off “to heal up” the brain and the body, and he wants to make sure everything “is all right” before getting back into competition.

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