Being one of the most accomplished strikers on the UFC roster, it’s no surprise that most of Stephen Thompson’s opponents want to take the fight to the mat as soon as possible.
Thompson expects much the same from Gilbert Burns when they meet at UFC 264 this weekend. The decorated Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner Burns has improved leaps and bounds in the striking department of late, but Thompson expects ‘Durinho’ to revert to his old ways in their fight.
“They know they can’t stand in there and strike with me,” Thompson told MMA Fighting. “They’re going to be shooting for the legs and I know for a fact Gilbert Burns will as well. He might just go straight out and try to shoot [for a takedown]. You never know. Get me to the cage, try to wear me down. Kind of like the old GSP (Georges St-Pierre) tactics against strikers. Get you up against the cage, lay on you, wear those arms out.”
Since suffering back-to-back defeats to Darren Till and Anthony Pettis, Thompson has rebounded by picking up decisive wins against Geoff Neal and Vincente Luque.
‘Wonderboy’ is confident he will be able to overcome whatever Burns throws at him on Saturday night and progress one step further to challenge Kamaru Usman for the welterweight title.
“I’ve got the best of the best at my gym right now and they’re helping me every step of the way, up against the fence, on the ground and of course standing,” Thompson said. “This is such an awesome training camp in the fact that I’m at the top. I’ve been in this game a long time but I feel myself getting better.
“Will I ever be as good as Gilbert Burns on the ground? No, but I can do enough to be able to survive and get back up to my feet if that happens. I’m ready to rock.”