Stephen Thompson ended his 2020 on a high with an impressive decision win over Geoff Neal at UFC Vegas 17, and is hoping to carry his form into the new year.
Thompson fought for the welterweight title twice, coming short on both occasions. He first fought the then UFC champion Tyron Woodley at UFC 205, with the fight ending in a majority draw. The two eventually battled in a rematch at UFC 209, which ‘The Chosen One’ won via majority decision.
The 37 year old suffered more setbacks, as he lost two of his next three fights. Although he beat Jorge Masvidal at UFC 217 via unanimous decision, he went on to lose to Darren Till via a controversial decision, and Anthony Pettis via knockout at UFC Liverpool and UFC Nashville respectively.
Winning The Title In 2021
But with recent back-to-back wins against Neal and Vicente Luque at UFC 244, Thompson has put himself back in title contention. Speaking to MMA Fighting (as transcribed by BJPenn.com), ‘Wonderboy’ said he deserves a fight with a top contender.
“I think I proved it in my last few fights against some tough guys, some up and comers, undefeated — Geoff Neal was in the UFC,” Thompson said. “The seven fight win streak that Vicente Luque had. They’ve got to give me somebody at the top.”
Thompson also believes that 2021 is going to be his year, and it’s only a matter of time before he wins the belt.
“I really know that I could fight for the title, for sure,” Thompson insisted. “I was telling everybody, 2021’s gonna be my year. It is my year. And I’m gonna have that belt around my waist.”
With reigning champion Kamaru Usman scheduled to defend his title against Gilbert Burns at UFC 258 next month, Leon Edwards vs Khamzat Chimaev moved to March, and the UFC planning a welterweight bout between Colby Covington and Masvidal, there’s a lot going on in the welterweight division’s upper echelon. At present, Thompson doesn’t have a lot of options in the top five, but he’s hoping for a rematch with ‘Gamebred’.
“I really do hope so, I think I’ve proven myself,” Thompson said. “Obviously, I poked a little bit at Leon Edwards and he wasn’t having it. I know Masvidal was interested in it not too long ago when he was fighting Usman. He said he wanted to defend the title against me and he wanted that win back. So I’m still in his head. Obviously, it’s still in his head about facing me again.
“But we’ll have to see what’s going and what happens with these fights coming up. Is Masvidal gonna be fighting Colby Covington? What’s gonna happen with Leon Edwards and Khamzat? Who’s gonna win that? And obviously, everybody’s looking at that title fight in February.”
How do you rate Stephen Thompson’s chances of winning the UFC welterweight title in 2021?