Top UFC welterweight contender Stephen 'Wonderboy' Thompson returned to Submission Radio this week, to talk about the fighting life, and why he, and not Demian Maia, absolutely deserves the next title fight with division champion Tyron Woodley.
“I do believe that after me and Tyron fight, that [Maia] should be getting the title fight," said Thompson. "I think he’s proven himself in the welterweight division, but if you look, I’ve got the longer winning streak. I’m seven, he’s six. I beat Rory MacDonald – the guy who’s the last guy that beat him. But man, I mean, the guys that he’s fought – Carlos Condit is a monster. I mean, Neil Magny, Gunnar Nelson- they’re all really good fighters, but I think I have beaten the better fighters, the more prestigious fighters in the division than he has. And obviously I have the longer winning streak (laughs).
"I know he’s throwing out there [that] he’s an older guy and thinks he should get it before me because he’s an older guy, but hey, I can’t help that he started MMA at a later age. I feel like I started at a later age. I started, what – I think I was 28 when I started mixed martial arts. So yeah man, I’m definitely the one that deserves the next title shot.”
UFC president Dana White has said publicly that Thompson is next, but the fighter has yet to hear that directly.
"Nothing’s really said," he said. "I mean, the only thing that we’re going on is what Dana White said. Normally when he goes out there and he puts it out there like that, it’s going to happen. So very rarely do you see him going back on something that he said like that. So we’re taking that as if that’s the truth. That’s what we’re preparing for and we’re taking his word for it.”
The division welterweight G.O.A.T. Georges St-Pierre recently went on UFC Tonight, and called for a fight with Woodley at UFC 206. Thompson was asked if that concerned him.
“For a big name like that to come out and say that, yeah, I mean it kind of does," said Wonderboy. "But does Tyron want to wait that long? UFC 206 is when, in December? So yeah, I don’t know, man. I don’t know if they’re still going through negotiations with Georges or not, or waiting on Dana. I’m not sure what the deal is, but it doesn’t bother me that much. When you hear it, it’s like man, could this really happen? But after it cut off, I looked at my Dad and we were like, 'nah…nah, they’re giving it to me, man.' It’s happening (laughs). So yeah, it kind of jabs at you a little bit, but yeah man, like I said, I’m set for facing Tyron Woodley and that’s what Dana White said. That’s what we’re going for.”
If GSP gets the title shot and wins, Thompson said that despite the friendship he has with the Canadian, they will still fight.
“He knows that that’s my goal," said Thompson. "He knows that’s my goal and that’s what I’m in the game for, is to win the title and be the best. And I think he just comes around as like what happened with me and Rory. We were good friends and we’ll be friends before and friends after the fight if it comes to that. I wouldn’t want to obviously because he’s a good buddy of mine and it’s kind of hard to go out there and do battle. I know I was a lot closer to Georges than I was ever with Rory.
"But man, yeah, I think he knows that I’m shooting for that, and for him to go out there and go for that title, well then he must be willing to do battle as well. You know what I mean? So as much as it would suck if it ever did come to that, I wouldn’t want to, to be honest with you, but those are my goals. That’s what I want to do. That’s what I want to accomplish, to be the best. And to be the best, you’ve got to have that title belt around your waist.”
Thompson also responded to Woodley calling for a money fight with GSP or Nick Diaz rather than a #1 contender fight with Thompson.
"He hits me with the, 'Nah man - you wanted to fight Robbie, so you’re gonna fight Robbie. I’m gonna get a money fight.' I was like, are you...I was laughing, but in my head I was like, is this guy kidding? This guy’s gotta be kidding.
"I was looking at Cormier and Cormier was looking at me. He’s like, 'I’m pretty sure this guy’s serious, you need to go back at him.' And dude, I was like, what the heck, man? It really surprised me. What champion doesn’t accept the number one contender? You know what I mean? That’s just how it goes. You defend that title a few times before you ever starting asking for a money fight. Come on, what’s going on?
"I mean, you hear Conor McGregor doing that, but Tyron’s nowhere near the level of Conor McGregor when it comes to marketing and popularity. He’s just not there. I think everybody else, the fans see that as well. And it upset not just me, but a lot of other fans and people that follow the UFC too.”
“I’m glad I did hold back. That just shows my self-control, and I knew a lot of people like my students were watching then. But if I could have gone back, or if I could have gotten him in a room with closed doors, I would definitely let him know at that time, you’re crazy. When you were a few months ago preaching how you deserve that fight, you deserve the fight, give it to you when you were ranked number FOUR and they still gave it to you. And now you’re doing this to me? It sounds like you’re a hypocrite, man. That’s just crazy talk. It sounds like to me you’re scared. You’re scared to fight me. Let’s do this, let’s go (laughs). I don’t know what else to say without throwing in a few cuss words.”
Thompson was asked if he thought Woodley was scared.
“Well as hard as he’s fighting it, it does seem that way," agreed Thompson. "If it was just the money – and it doesn’t seem like the UFC’s going to give it to him – okay, I’ll fight the number one contender. But now it’s going crazy. Now he’s throwing racism out there and now he’s just kind of going over and beyond of the whole situation, to be honest with you. And yeah man, it’s starting to seem that way. I mean, you’re the champion, you should be taking all newcomers – especially when you just get that belt. You have the belt of for thirty seconds and you’re already shutting me down, asking for a money fight? It doesn’t work that way pal.”
Lastly Thompson was asked the biggest question of all, in the entire sport - why do you fight? Was it the title? Was it money?
“No man, it’s literally for the lifelong commitment to this game," he explained. "I’ve been a martial artist since I’ve been three years old and I started fighting at the age of 15 and I’ve never stopped. I’ve worked my butt off to get to where I am today.
“For the money? Nah. If I wasn’t in the UFC, I’d still be fighting somewhere. Like I said, I don’t care what the UFC thinks, I’d fight for free. I just want to be the best fighter. That’s my goal, the best fighter.”
“I mean, I’ve got a job. I teach karate classes all day long, and it’s a very great job. It’s a fun job, man. It’s definitely a whole lot better than fighting. You know, teach classes, you’re out there having fun. So I’ve got a job. I fight for the fun of it. The money’s just a bonus.”