Friday, December 2, 2022

Stephen Thompson: I’m Not Stopping Until I Face Usman

UFC welterweight Stephen Thompson has his eyes set on a championship showdown with Kamaru Usman ahead of his next fight at UFC 264.

Thompson’s comments on his ongoing title charge come ahead of his upcoming clash with Gilbert Burns at this weekend’s pay-per-view. As the event’s co-main event, “Wonderboy” and “Durinho” will provide a 170-pound appetizer before the blockbuster trilogy fight between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier headlines the Las Vegas PPV.

Having failed to capture UFC gold last time out, Burns will be looking to get back into the win column and stake his claim for a second fight with his former teammate. But Thompson, a perennial contender and two-time title challenger in the division, will look to secure his own date with “The Nigerian Nightmare” with a victory over the Brazilian on July 10.

Despite being an ever-present figure towards the top of the division, Stephen Thompson is the highest-ranked welterweight who hasn’t stood across from Usman inside the Octagon.

“Wonderboy” will be looking to change that fact by extending his winning streak to three. Victories over Vicente Luque and Geoff Neal brought the 36-year-old back into title contention and, despite Leon Edwards‘ strong case for a championship opportunity, “Wonderboy” will feel an impressive performance over second-ranked Burns would put him in prime position for another crack at UFC gold.

During an interview with MMA Fighting, Thompson spoke about being the one top contender yet to face the champ and revealed his confusion at Usman calling out Michael Chiesa over him.

“I’m the guy that hasn’t faced him yet. It feels like everyone in the top-10 has already fought him at some point in time. Leon Edwards has fought him in the past. Gilbert Burns has fought him. Colby Covington has fought him. He just knocked out Jorge Masvidal. Like who else is this guy going to fight? And then I think it was not too long ago he was talking about fighting Michael Chiesa and it’s like why wouldn’t it have been me?”

Thompson added that given his immense striking ability and skills on the feet, he believes he’s the worst matchup for Usman.

“I think I’m a terrible matchup for him… Just because of the movement, our styles together. He’s a type of guy, he plods forward, he tries to get you to the cage but I feel like that was the old Kamaru. I still feel like I’m a bad matchup for him, especially if he wants to keep the fight standing, like he did against Masvidal who is one of the best strikers in the division. He knocked him out. I’ve got one of the best takedown defenses in our division as well. I can’t wait to step out there with him… Is he going to stand there and strike or is he going to go straight for wrestling? Whatever happens, I’m obviously going to be prepared for it but I think I’m the worst matchup for him,” said Thompson.

“Wonderboy” went on to suggest that a win over Burns will undoubtedly set up a matchup with Usman. But either way, the fan favorite isn’t stopping his charge until he gets a title shot.

“I feel like that I’m the last man standing right now. A good win over Gilbert Burns, he’s going to have to face me…. He’s the champ. He’s the guy that’s got the title and I’m not stopping until I face him.”

A stacked UFC 264 PPV card is now just days away. The event, which will see the UFC’s return to a sold out T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, is set to be one of the promotion’s most successful events of the year.

With the likes of McGregor and Thompson at the top of the card, along with names such as Sean O’Malley, Carlos Condit, Niko Price and Michel Pereira also in action, the UFC’s first card of the month should be an absolute thriller.

Do you think Stephen Thompson should be Kamaru Usman’s next challenger if he defeats Gilbert Burns?