Following victories over Vicente Luque and Geoff Neal, “Wonderboy” found himself inside the top five at 170 pounds and perhaps only one win away from a third shot at gold — he failed to unseat Tyron Woodley on two occasions.
But although Thompson had hoped to secure a date in the cage with Kamaru Usman at the expense of Gilbert Burns last July, the UFC 264 co-main event ended in defeat for the veteran, who was controlled by the Brazilian en route to a defeat on the scorecards.
It was a similar story in December, with Belal Muhammad wrestling his way to a unanimous decision triumph against Thompson, whose grappling deficiencies were well and truly exposed once again.
But despite those setbacks, which have left him at #7 in the rankings and some way from the title picture, Thompson doesn’t appear to have lost his hunger, as he immediately insisted post-UFC Vegas 45.
That mindset hasn’t changed, with “Wonderboy” still boasting title aspirations and even hoping to become the oldest active UFC fighter in history. While that goal is a long way away, seemingly so is any thought of retirement for the 39-year-old.
Thompson: “I Don’t Feel Old”
During a recent episode of the What’s Up Everybody?! podcast, Thompson addressed his future in the sport of MMA, answering whether or not he has a timeline in mind for the final years of his in-cage tenure.
While many have one eye on the end of their careers by the time they reach the age of 40, Thompson said that he hasn’t even thought about it. After acknowledging that the day will eventually come when he has to hang up his gloves, “Wonderboy” noted that he’ll likely remain extremely active in the gym.
“No. I don’t know, I guess ’cause I don’t feel old. I don’t feel old so I’ve never even thought about it, and I don’t like to think about it,” Thompson said. “I don’t know, because I’m a fighter and I like to fight. There will be a day. Even then, even though I won’t have professional fights on TV, I will still be a fighter. I will still be sparring, I think. I’ll still be going in, sparring guys, training guys. But as a career yet, I don’t think about it, don’t think of an end.”
Perhaps spurred on by the late-career success of Glover Teixeira, who won the light heavyweight title at the age of 42 last October at UFC 267, Thompson is not giving up on his dream of having gold wrapped around his waist inside the Octagon.
For that to happen, the 39-year-old South Carolina native is looking to rebound against a striker later this year, perhaps either Bryan Barberena or Michel Pereira, whilst improving his grappling game ahead of another push to the top.
Do you think Stephen Thompson has what it takes to mount another late surge towards the welterweight title?