It’s been a little over a month since Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson made his spectacular debut against Dan Stittgen at UFC 143 in Las Vegas. There was a lot of buzz leading up to that fight due to Thompson’s association with UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre who he began training with in 2005. Momentum continued to build as highlight videos of Thompson during his undefeated kickboxing career were making their way around the internet as were the words of GSP and his head coach Firas Zahabi.
Both St. Pierre and Zahabi called “Wonderboy” the best striker in all of combat sports and also proclaimed that he was a future world champion, a point “Rush” reiterated last night on UFC Ultimate Insider. Certainly St. Pierre’s words are high praise coming from one of the sport’s top pound-for-pound fighters and, as Thompson’s debut revealed, they were not simply lip service. After winning the show’s Knockout of the Night bonus it wouldn’t have been all that surprising to see Thompson bask in his moment of glory and enjoy the fruits of his labor.
Maybe another fighter would’ve allowed the success to get to his head, but Thompson is not just any fighter. Foundation-wise, the 28-year old comes from some pretty good stock. His father Ray Thompson has been training Stephen since he was barely able to walk and he’s not the type of father/trainer to allow anyone under his tutelage to rest on his or her laurels. For those that know the Thompson family they knew right away that “Wonderboy” would keep his ego in check and he’d be right back in the gym preparing for his next big opportunity. That chance came quickly as Thomspon will face Matt Brown on April 21 in Atlanta at UFC 145.
“I’ve actually been pretty busy,” said Thompson in an exclusive interview with Five Ounces of Pain. “Two days after the fight I got back home and the UFC had a contract ready for me to fight Matt Brown. There was very little down time I took a few days off before I was back training and in the gym. I started camp about two weeks ago and I’m training hard. I’m down in Florida training with Rashad Evans and a few of his teammates. From here I’ll be going to Dallas to train with my brother-in-law and then Nate Marquardt will be coming down from Denver.”
Brown has been with the UFC since he first appeared as a contestant The Ultimate Fighter 7 back in 2008. Although his record is 13-11 he is as tough as they come and has never been finished by strikes. He does, however, leave a lot to be desired once the fight hits the floor as evidenced by his nine submission losses. So where will “Wonderboy” look to bring this fight considering Brown’s history?
“I know he’s got a really hard head who is really hard to finish,” Thompson explained. “He’s a very aggressive fighter and he has said he plans on trading with me, but I think he’ll eventually try and take me down. I’m ready for wherever the fight goes and I feel very confident no matter where the fight ends up. He’s been talking a little trash, but I’d rather do my talking inside the cage. I use his words as fuel and motivation which allows me to train harder. If the opportunity presents itself for me to submit him I will certainly take it, but I want to be the first fighter to actually finish him by knockout.”
At UFC 143 the 6-0 Thompson was joined by many of his friends, family member, and students in Las Vegas. This time around the drive will be much shorter as Atlanta is just two hours away from his homebase in Greenville, South Carolina. Still, it doesn’t appear the pressure to perform so close to home will be too much for the undefeated Kickboxing Champion even though he knows it will be unlike any of his previous fights.
“It feels great to fight so close to home,” said an excited Thompson. “I have a big following here and will have a lot of people behind me in Atlanta. I always fight better when I fight in front of my home crowd. We have about 750 students at our school and just about everyone has said they are going to try and make it down to Atlanta so the amount of support I am going to have will be tremendous. It’s a confidence booster and I think it’s really cool that I’ll be fighting on the FX portion of the card so anyone who can’t make it to Atlanta can at least watch me on television. It also helps to have so many Alchemist fighters on this card as well. We’ll have each other to help stay relaxed before our fights.”
A few weeks after UFC 145 Thompson will be attending the MMA Live Show May 12 and 13 at the NEC Arena in Birmingham, England. He will be joined by many of his Alchemist brothers including Brendan Schaub, Jorge Rivera, Rory MacDonald, Stefan Struve, Thiago Silva, Vladimir Matyushenko and President Lex McMahon. This will give him an opportunity to interact with all of his new fans and allow the fans an opportunity to interact with one of the more engaging personalities in the sport.
“I’m really looking forward to it, that should be a really cool event,” revealed Thompson. “I will be doing some autograph signings and a seminar. Lex has some really cool things that he is working on for me. It’ll be the first time in England for me. I’ve been to Hungary for a Kickboxing event, but never before in the U.K. I am looking forward to meeting my fans and running the seminars. I hope to give them something to help them and answer any of their questions. It’s all about having fun and interacting with the fans.”
In the meantime you can catch up with Thompson on Twitter @WonderboyMMA.