35-Year-Old UFC Welterweight 14-2-1
June 18, 2018 Stephen Thompson News
RotoWire Fantasy Analysis
Thompson revealed that he suffered a torn MCL in his knee during his fight with Darren Till at UFC Liverpool on May 27, Jed Meshew of MMAFighting.com reports.
Thompson said that Till's targeted side kicks to the knee were instrumental to the latter winning the fight, with "Wonderboy" noting that the blows slowed him down during the second round. Fortunately for Thompson, who previously tore the ACL in the same knee, he suffered no other damage after undergoing a post-fight MRI and won't need surgery to address the MCL tear. He'll take the next two months to recover before resuming training and preparing for his next fight.
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Fantasy AnalysisThis was a very close fight. Neither fighter went out and "took" the decision. Thompson used his typical elusive style to stay on the outside and avoid big shots from his opponent. Thompson did an excellent job of using his counter-striking to land more strikes than Till. This fight likely swung on "Octagon control" as Thompson was moving backwards the entire fight and Till was pursuing. Thompson could have been more assertive and taken more risks, but that is a tall task against a fighter who possesses the power of Till. "Wonderboy" was knocked down in the fifth round, and that was the decisive point of the fight as two judges gave Till the victory by one round. It seemed like Thompson was on his way to a decision victory, but the judges took into account Till's pressure, damage he did to Thompson's leg, and knockdown in the fifth round.
Fantasy AnalysisThompson is already picking up 30 percent of Till's purse due to the fact that Till missed weight Saturday, but another aspect of the deal negotiated by the fighters was that Till could not weigh more than 188 pounds upon entering the arena. That may seem like a silly idea given that the fighters' contracted weight is 171 pounds, but for a large welterweight like Till that can walk around north of 200, it's essentially forcing a second weight cut on fight day. Till will now have to scramble to rehydrate, and medically speaking, won't be able to fully do so before entering the octagon later today. This uncertainty seems to have swung the betting odds back in favor of Thompson, who sits at approximately a (-135) favorite for the main event as of 9:00 AM ET.
Fantasy AnalysisThompson negotiated a deal that forces Till to surrender 30 percent of his fight purse, and makes him unable to weigh more than 188 pounds when arriving at the arena tomorrow. If he misses that mark, the terms would need to be negotiated once again. It's a bit of a unique move, but very strategic on the part of Thompson's team, as it will prevent Till from entering the octagon too advantageously heavy. Furthermore, it may require Till to cut a bit of weight tomorrow morning, which wouldn't be ideal for a fighter about to compete at the highest level. As of Saturday morning (in the U.S.), Thompson has moved from a slight underdog to a betting favorite of roughly (-125), though the matchup remains a pick'em in many sportsbooks.
Fantasy AnalysisThis fight had been speculated for quite some time, but the promotion finally came out and made it official Thursday morning. Though Thompson was unable to best champion Tyron Woodley in two opportunities, he rebounded well with a unanimous decision victory over Jorge Masvidal last November. Unlikely to see a title shot any time soon after two lackluster performances against Woodley, Thompson will now serve as the gatekeeper and continue to fight top contenders in the 170-pound division. Till has a lot of momentum on his side following a stunning KO victory over UFC stalwart Donald Cerrone, but his experience pales in comparison to that of Thompson. Till has just five fights under the UFC lights, while Thompson has been fighting the best welterweights for years. For that reason, look for Thompson to enter a pretty sizable betting favorite.
Fantasy AnalysisThompson started the track back toward the belt with a win over Masvidal. After suffering back-to-back losses to UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, "Wonderboy" needed a win. The kickboxer got it via unanimous decision and might have even broken a thumb in the process. He moves to 14-2-1 overall. The NYSAC gave Thompson a 45-day medical suspension following the match, so he'll remain out of action during that time unless cleared earlier by a physician. Other fighters given similar suspensions pending clearance include Aleksei Oleinik, Aeimann Zahabi, Georges St-Pierre, Corey Anderson and Mickey Gall.
Fantasy AnalysisThompson's camp believes Till needs a few more fights in the tough welterweight division before getting a shot at the elite fighters, as Wonderboy surely paid his dues to get to the top. His coach appears flabbergasted that this was reported as a "done deal" and instead expressed interest in a fight with top contender Robbie Lawler. That matchup would undoubtedly land on a pay-per-view card and result in a higher payday than a dangerous bout against the up-and-coming Till in his home country. First and foremost, Thompson will see a doctor Thursday to address potentially broken thumbs and other ligament damage that was endured in his fight against Jorge Masvidal at UFC 217 on Saturday. If he doesn't check out physically and has to put a hold on training, February might be too quick of a turnaround to get back into the Octagon. Even if everything checks out, it doesn't appear as if this is the fight he wants, even if UFC President Dana White has already declared it to be.
Fantasy AnalysisFollowing two title fights against the current UFC Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley, one that ended in a draw and the other a loss, Thompson got back on the right track at UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden to start November and secured a unanimous decision victory over Jorge Masvidal. With yet another title fight against Woodley off the table for now, Thompson will battle the rising Darren Till, who will have home court advantage with the fight taking place in his native England. Till boasts a record of 16-0 and is coming off a first-round knockout of Donald Cerrone at the end of October, so Thompson will certainly have to be at his best once again.
Fantasy AnalysisIt was an excellent performance from Thompson on the heels of his back-to-back losses to current UFC Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley. It was made even more impressive by the fact that Thompson thinks he broke his thumb during a striking exchange in Round 2. He threw all sorts of strikes from odd angles per usual and he connected with regularity throughout the course of the fight. The bottom line is that there is virtually no 170-pounder in the world that can beat "Wonderboy" in a kickboxing match. The issue for Thompson moving forward is that the company can't book him against Woodley again so soon. It is going to take another couple of big wins or Woodley losing the belt before "Wonderboy" gets his shot at UFC gold once again.
Fantasy AnalysisThompson, a two-time title contender, most recently went up against welterweight champion Tyron Woodley. Their bouts ended in a draw and loss for Thompson respectively. Prior to that pair of fights, however, "Wonderboy" had claimed seven victories in a row. He also underwent knee surgery back in late March, though it was described as "routine" and went successfully.
Fantasy AnalysisThompson's surgery has been described as "routine," and his management team does not expect a lengthy absence. He'll likely need to prove himself against several top contenders before getting another chance at the welterweight strap, as a trilogy matchup against Tyron Woodley won't have much fan appeal following a lackluster title fight their last time out. At 34 years old, the window certainly isn't closed on Thompson making another run.
Fantasy AnalysisTwo of the most exciting fighters on the UFC roster combined to produce one of the most boring title fights in recent memory. Much like the first fight between the two men, Thompson had great difficulty landing with any regularity. He spent the vast majority of Round 3 on his back, and he was very nearly knocked out by Woodley with about 10 seconds left in the fight. In between, he controlled the pace of the fight, but he didn't connect with enough shots to sway the judge's in his direction. The one time Wonderboy was taken down, he eventually worked his way back to his feet. In what was a kickboxing match for about 22 of the 25 minutes of the fight, Thompson still couldn't produce a definitive win. The bottom line here is that the rematch was completely underwhelming and provided far more questions than it did answers.
Fantasy AnalysisThompson is a taller and longer fighter than Woodley, so on paper, that should give him an advantage in the striking department. He actually tallied more significant strikes than Woodley in three rounds their last time out, but ultimately didn't do enough damage to win the fight. Strategically, Thompson should look to keep this fight standing once again, where he'll be able to use his karate background to produce steady scoring (and fantasy points) against the champion. If Woodley changes up his strategy this time and successfully gets the fight to the mat, however, Thompson could find himself at a disadvantage. While Thompson was the betting favorite in their first bout, the opening odds should be a bit closer this time around.
Fantasy AnalysisIt was a crazy fight, and to make matters even more insane, ring announcer Bruce Buffer incorrectly reported the contest as a split decision win for Woodley. Of course, that is impossible given that two of the judge's scored the bout a draw. To say it was a back and forth fight would be an understatement. Thompson spent a good portion of Round 1 on his back. His kickboxing skills pulled him ahead in Rounds 2 and 3, but it all nearly came crashing down in Round 4. Woodley landed a huge right hand that staggered Wonderboy and led to the champion clamping on a pair of deep guillotine attempts. The chokes would have finished literally 99.9% of the fighters walking the planet today, and Thompson engineered two escapes that would have made Houdini proud. On top of that, he somehow finished Round 4 in top position. Wonderboy was also the far better, and far fresher, fighter in the fifth and final frame. Round 3 was really the only round that was up for debate. Wonderboy was the better fighter for long stretches of the bout, but Woodley seemingly did more damage with his dominant Round 4. A whole lot went on over the course of this fight, but nothing was settled. An immediate rematch would seem to be the only decision that makes sense. Thompson would have won if he wasn't blitzed in that one single frame.
Fantasy AnalysisThat's an awfully big line for the challenger. Currently riding a seven-fight winning streak, Wonderboy has more than earned his shot at UFC gold. Included in that span are KO wins over Robert Whittaker and Johny Hendricks, and an easy unanimous decision over Rory MacDonald in Thompson's previous bout in June. We are yet to see an opponent who can come remotely close to competiting with Thompson, who is a former five-time world champion kickboxer, on the feet. If Woodley foolishly goes that route, the odds are far better than 50/50 that we will have a new UFC Welterweight Champion on Saturday night.
Fantasy AnalysisThompson is currently dealing with a thumb injury, but certainly expects to be ready well in time for the November event. Wonderboy defeated one of the top welterweight contenders in Rory MacDonald back in June for his seventh consecutive victory, giving him rights to the next title shot. Since 2010, Thompson and Woodley have just one combined submission, so look for this bout to be played out primarily on the feet.
Fantasy AnalysisThompson is certainly deserving of the opportunity, as he recently defeated top contender Rory MacDonald via unanimous decision for his seventh straight victory. Current champion Tyron Woodley begs to differ, however, and would rather take a big money fight against Nick Diaz or Georges St-Pierre. Woodley can campaign for a different opponent all he'd like, but it ultimately comes down to what the boss says. If White is determined to give "Wonderboy" the next welterweight title opportunity, then that's what's going to go down. The only road block could be a potential thumb injury that Thompson suffered in the MacDonald fight, and if he ends up needing surgery, the UFC may be forced to go another direction.
Fantasy AnalysisThompson said he suffered the injury in the second round of his recent unanimous-decision victory over Rory MacDonald at UFC Fight Night 89 on June 18. Currently, he claims to be unable to even fit his hand into a glove due to the injury that was sustained while breaking away from the clinch. Thompson is all but guaranteed the next welterweight title opportunity, but thumb surgery could delay this chance for several months. After that, he would presumably need at least another six weeks for a full fight camp. Fortunately for Wonderboy, current champion Robbie Lawler is not scheduled to fight again until July 30, so he has some time to recover his health before getting booked for another major event.
Fantasy AnalysisIt wasn't the dominant explosive effort we saw from Wonderboy in his win over Johny Hendricks, but it should be more than enough to earn him a welterweight title shot against the winner of next month's fight between current champion Robbie Lawler and challenger Tyron Woodley. Thompson's ability to throw strikes from odds angles is unparalleled in the welterweight division and it's a major reason why he is so successful. He has able to consistently avoid the strike attempts of MacDonald while landing plenty of his own. Attempting to wrestle Wonderboy appears to be the only way to defeat him, but his takedown defense has improved considerably since he began training with former UFC Middleweight Champion Chris Weidman. Thompson's got a late start in MMA because of his lengthy and successful kickboxing career, but now riding a seven-fight winning streak, he is going to be fighting for a title in the near future. It would be far from a shock if Wonderboy ended 2016 as the UFC Welterweight Champion.
Fantasy AnalysisFresh off a pasting of former UFC Welterweight Champion Johny Hendricks in February, Thompson is seemingly one win away from earning a title shot. Thompson’s one and only professional came against Matt Brown in April 2012, but he is a far, far better, and more well-rounded mixed martial artist now. His kickboxing skills have always been world class, but it’s the other aspects of Thompson’s game where he has made the greatest advances. Working alongside good friend and former UFC Middleweight Champion Chris Weidman, Thompson’s wrestling and takedown defense have improved to the point where he has to be considered close to average in both areas, which is all a fighter of Thompson’s pedigree and athletic ability requires. Wonderboy has been one of the best 170-pounders in the world for more than four years now. Few expected him to rise to the top of the rankings this quickly, but there is nothing in his past history to suggest this string of impressive performances is a fluke.
Fantasy AnalysisThese suspensions rarely go their full length, as Thompson could get early clearance to return if an x-ray on his injured ankle is cleared by a physician. On the bright side, Wonderboy did state during his post-fight interview that he doesn't believe his foot to be broken. If that holds true, he could be back to fight one of the top UFC welterweights as early as the summer. If the injury is more serious than anticipated, the maximum suspension would keep him out of the octagon until Aug. 7, 2016.
Fantasy AnalysisThompson can and most likely will defeat any man in the welterweight division in a striking battle, and that includes a fighter with the pedigree and chin of Hendricks. Thompson's ability to throw kicks from odd angles is simply remarkable. There continue to be questions about how he will fare against a guy who consistently attempts to take him down, but if anyone is stupid enough to stand and trade with Thompson, this is going to be the end result. Wonderboy has never really gotten much press, but we know his striking is off the charts and he continues to work on his wrestling game with good friend and former middleweight champion Chris Weidman. Considering all the wars that Hendricks has been in with Robbie Lawler and Georges St. Pierre amongst others, it's crazy to think that Thompson stopped him in the first round.
Fantasy AnalysisWonderboy is one of the most underrated fighters in all of MMA, but this seems like a bad matchup for him. He has to go up against a guy in Hendricks who is not only a terrific wrestler, but also has a chin made of granite. There is no doubt that Thompson has worked on his wrestling leading up to this fight, but he is inexperienced in that area and the odds are high that he spends a significant portion of Saturday's contest on his back. If Hendricks is foolish enough to get into a kickboxing match against Thompson, Wonderboy has the tools to win. He can beat any 170-pounder in the world in a striking battle.
Fantasy AnalysisThompson underwent surgery for a torn left meniscus late last month, but he obviously will be ready to roll by early January. Wonderboy is coming off a first round KO win over Jake Ellenberger in July. The only loss of his professional career came against Matt Brown in April 2012.
Fantasy AnalysisThompson, who is also dealing with a bruised right heel, remains without a timetable for return. He's coming off an impressive KO victory over Jake Ellenberger, but it may be several months before UFC fans see him in the octagon again.
Fantasy AnalysisThompson's striking is simply on another level. He ended this one with a spinning hook kick to Ellenberger's face. As a former undefeated professional kickboxer, he can get off kicks and punches that virtually no one else in the sport can. Yet the most impressive part of Thompson's performance may have been his improved wrestling. He has been working with UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman a ton of late and the improvement in his ground game was obvious. Thompson is going to go as far as his striking can take him, but if he can get his defensive and wrestling game anywhere near the level of his stand up abilities, he's a future title contender. Any opponent who stands directly in front of Thompson is simply going to get picked apart.
Fantasy AnalysisThompson has picked up four straight wins since a loss to Matt Brown in April of 2012. Thompson is a former professional kickboxer, while Ellenberger was a Division II All-American wrestler at the University of Nebraska-Kearney. It makes for an interesting contrast in styles and it should setup a good matchup between the two.