Thursday, January 27, 2022

Stephen Thompson Hopes An Injury/Fall Out Gives Him Top-5 Opponent

Stephen Thompson is growing more frustrating by the day from waiting to be booked against a top-ranked opponent.

It has been four years since Stephen Thompson has challenged for the UFC welterweight championship, and he continues trying to maneuver himself into a position where he can get a third crack at the title. Currently on a two-fight winning streak, Thompson believes that it’s time for him to fight an opponent in the top 5, where a victory could earn him another title shot. The problem is he has been having quite the hard time finding this opponent. 

Thompson had lobbied to fight Leon Edwards, but Edwards emphatically rejected this idea and was instead paired against Khamzat Chimaev. When Chimaev withdrew from the bout due to COVID-19 complications, Belal Muhammad stepped in his place. More recently, Thompson has called for a fight against Colby Covington. Covington has labeled Thompson as irrelevant, though, so that doesn’t bode well for Thompson’s chances of getting this fight.

Stephen Thompson Hopes Someone Gets Injured Or Falls Out Of Fight

At the end of his patience waiting for a top-5 opponent, we’ve now reached the point where the 38-year-old now wonders if the only chance he may have at getting such a highly ranked opponent any time soon is if circumstance intervenes and someone else’s misfortune opens up an opportunity for him to seize.

“I am a difficult opponent to prepare for. I know that a loss (to) me would definitely negate that shot for the title next, so they’re not wanting to fight me, and it shows,” Thompson told Submission Radio recently. “Everybody at the top 5 is just not wanting it. So I’m kind of keeping my fingers crossed. And hopefully, somebody falls out or somebody gets injured, (and) I can jump in there, you know what I’m saying? So I’m back in the gym. I’m training.”

These comments aren’t necessarily befitting someone unofficially crowned the “Nicest Motherfucker,” but it is very consistent with a man who is pushing 40 and could be running out of time to receive another world title shot while still at the top of his game.

Stephen Thompson defeats Geoff Neal in UFC Vegas 17 main event
Stephen Thompson Lands A High Kick On Geoff Neal In Most Recent Fight. Image Credit: Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Stephen Thompson is currently ranked #5, so a fight against someone also ranked in the top 5 is not unreasonable. The current landscape in the welterweight top 5 has Kamaru Usman set to defend the title against #4-ranked Jorge Masvidal in a rematch; #3-ranked Leon Edwards possibly (but not assuredly) being pitted against Belal Muhammad in a rematch after their no-contest earlier this month; and then the rest is wide open, including an open schedule for Gilbert Burns (#1) and Colby Covington (#2).

In his most recent fight, Thompson lent an opportunity to a lower-ranked opponent in Geoff Neal. Now that Thompson emerged from that fight with a victory, he is now only looking up the rankings, but his patience to be pitted against a top-5 opponent is now at the end of its rope.

What do you think of Stephen Thompson’s desperation to fight a top-5 opponent next?

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