Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson has been ready to fight for a
few months already but he kept running into the same problem over and over
He just couldn’t seem to find an opponent.
As a former two-time title contender still ranked in the top
five at welterweight, Thompson would seem like the perfect opponent for anybody
hoping to one day challenge for the championship but he was struggling to find
anybody to face him.
There were rumors that Thompson would welcome Robbie Lawler
back to the Octagon but he ended up with a fight against Ben Askren instead.
Thompson also seriously pursued a showdown against Santiago
Ponzinibbio, who is currently riding a seven-fight win streak in the division.
Unfortunately according to Thompson, the Argentinean contender just had no
interest in facing him.
“That’s another guy I tried to face, I tried to fight,”
Thompson revealed when asked about Ponzinibbio. “The plan was to fight him in
January. I was on Christmas vacation, still training cause it was to the point where
I was just waiting on a contract. But I kept getting back, the UFC was saying
he needed a little more time to prepare for me and things like that.
“Then my manager I think kind of touched with his manager
and he just said he didn’t want to fight. I’m like OK, well shoot, what do I do
now? I thought that would be an awesome fight. He’s a banger, a striker, known
to knock dudes out, I think he finished Gunnar Nelson in the first round with a
big right hand so you know he’s got power. He’s always game. I thought it was
going to happen but it just didn’t work so here we are. Maybe in the future.”
Thompson admits it got rather frustrating waiting for a ranked
welterweight challenger to step up to the plate as he was anticipating a
marquee fight for his return to action in 2019.
“It is kind of disappointing,” Thompson said. “I know
everybody is considering me a gatekeeper at this point but a dangerous gatekeeper
at that. It is a little disappointing that there are some guys in that division
who I think would put on a great fight but then it doesn’t happen.”
The bright side for Thompson was former lightweight champion
Anthony “Showtime” Pettis was not only willing to take the fight but he asked
He may not have a number next to his name in the
welterweight rankings but Thompson knows Pettis has the skills to make noise at
170 pounds so he’s anticipating a war on Saturday night in Nashville.
“You’ve got a lot of guys coming up from the 155-pound
division and doing work at 170. Donald Cerrone, Michael Chiesa just came up and
submitted Carlos Condit, who Anthony Pettis submitted,” Thompson said. “He’s no
joke on the ground. He’s a high-level grappler. I think a lot of people
underestimate that. I do have to be careful.
“I’m not giving up on that title and I do want to work my
way back up to face [Kamaru] Usman if he still has [the belt] when I get there.
I’m not taking Anthony Pettis lightly at all.”