In his return to the Octagon after a little over a year away, No. 5 ranked welterweight Stephen Thompson put on an absolute clinic against Geoff Neal in the main event of UFC Vegas 17.
Thompson kept Neal at a comfortable distance for most of the fight, but whenever they did clash, he was able to best his opponent with punches and kicks that eventually lead him to a unanimous decision victory after a hard-fought 25 minutes. Now on a two-fight winning streak over names in the top 15, Thompson is hoping to get someone ranked above him in his next appearance. He already had the name of one person who fits that bill ready to go during his post-fight interview.
Speaking with Daniel Cormier immediately after the fight, Thompson was asked about who he wanted next and he called for a fight against someone he has met before in Jorge ‘Gamebred’ Masvidal. Thompson already holds a win over Masvidal after their initial meeting in 2017 at UFC 217, but with title aspirations guiding his next career moves, it makes sense for the two to meet again considering their respective places in the division.
“I was poking at a guy ranked higher than me not too long ago on Twitter, in the nicest way possible,” said Thompson. “He wasn’t having it, but yes, this is two in a row. [I’m] ranked No. 11 and I’m definitely working my way up. Give me somebody — I want to see the NMF vs. the BMF, baby. Let’s make that happen!
“Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson versus Jorge Masvidal 2. I know that he’s talking about fighting Colby Covington, but we’ll see.”
Thompson further explained the reason behind his Masvidal callout when he spoke with Laura Sanko backstage.
“Well, No. 1 I knew he was interested if he had won the fight against [Kamaru] Usman the first time,” said Thompson. “He said he would want to defend it against me. I know he wants that win back and it’s crazy because he inspires me to keep moving forward [and] to keep pushing. It wasn’t that long ago that I beat him at UFC 217 and now he’s one of the most popular guys in the UFC. He’s ranked higher than me and I thought we put on a good show the first time, so why not do it again?”
Although it is not confirmed as of right now, a fight between the former teammates turned bitter rivals in Masvidal and Covington is a welterweight attraction supposedly coming in the next year. UFC President Dana White hinted at it being an option for 2021, but with other fights such as the Nate Diaz rematch and now, the Thompson rematch being potentially added to that list for Masvidal, it is unclear which one they will decide to go with first.
For what it is worth, Masvidal has seemingly responded to Thompson on social media, so perhaps Thompson vs. Masvidal 2 will be coming sooner rather than later.