If Stephen Thompson had his way, he would be facing Leon Edwards on December 19 instead of Geoff Neal. However, Leon Edwards made it clear that he was not interested in a fight against Thompson and will instead be facing Khamzat Chimaev on January 20. Leon Edwards is currently ranked #3, and Thompson (#5) always has his eyes at the top of the division in the hopes of earning a third title shot.
Geoff Neal is currently ranked #11 in the division, which is one spot lower than the man Stephen Thompson defeated in his last outing: Vicente Luque. But Thompson is confident that if he defeats Neal, the UFC would have to acquiesce and grant him a higher-ranked opponent.
“A little disappointed I didn’t get who I wanted to get,” Thompson told MMA Junkie recently. “Obviously I was poking at Leon Edward a little bit on social media, but he seemed to be the only guy at the time ready to fight, and he didn’t want the fight, so even though he got Khamzat (Chimaev), I got Geoff Neal. That’s OK. With a good win over Geoff Neal, they’ve gotta give me somebody in the top five.”
Despite Stephen Thompson’s frustrations, he has lost two of his last three fights, including one knockout loss to Anthony Pettis. Thompson’s most recent win over Vicente Luque was November 2019, with Thompson sitting on the sidelines ever since. The UFC tried to remedy this by offering Thompson a fight against Khamzat Chimaev, but Thompson rejected the fight and believes that after a victory over Geoff Neal, the UFC should grant him the opportunity to re-enter the title conversation.
“At some point, you gotta put your foot down and say, ‘Hey, let’s go for another title run, UFC,’ and I think with a good win over Geoff Neal, that could be a possibility,” Thompson said. “Of course I’m not looking past Geoff Neal because he’s super tough, and anything can happen, but if I go out there and have a good win over Geoff Neal, I want somebody in the top five.”
Do you believe Stephen Thompson would deserve a top-5 opponent if he defeats Geoff Neal on December 19?