Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson has been ready to fight for a few months already but he kept running into the same problem over and over again.
He just couldn’t seem to find an opponent.
As a former two-time title contender still ranked in the top five at welterweight, Thompson would seem like the perfect opponent for anybody hoping to one day challenge for the championship but he was struggling to find anybody to face him.
There were rumors that Thompson would welcome Robbie Lawler back to the Octagon but he ended up with a fight against Ben Askren instead.
Thompson also seriously pursued a showdown against Santiago Ponzinibbio, who is currently riding a seven-fight win streak in the division. Unfortunately according to Thompson, the Argentinean contender just had no interest in facing him.
“That’s another guy I tried to face, I tried to fight,” Thompson revealed when asked about Ponzinibbio. “The plan was to fight him in January. I was on Christmas vacation, still training cause it was to the point where I was just waiting on a contract. But I kept getting back, the UFC was saying he needed a little more time to prepare for me and things like that.
“Then my manager I think kind of touched with his manager and he just said he didn’t want to fight. I’m like OK, well shoot, what do I do now? I thought that would be an awesome fight. He’s a banger, a striker, known to knock dudes out, I think he finished Gunnar Nelson in the first round with a big right hand so you know he’s got power. He’s always game. I thought it was going to happen but it just didn’t work so here we are. Maybe in the future.”
Thompson admits it got rather frustrating waiting for a ranked welterweight challenger to step up to the plate as he was anticipating a marquee fight for his return to action in 2019.
“It is kind of disappointing,” Thompson said. “I know everybody is considering me a gatekeeper at this point but a dangerous gatekeeper at that. It is a little disappointing that there are some guys in that division who I think would put on a great fight but then it doesn’t happen.”
The bright side for Thompson was former lightweight champion Anthony “Showtime” Pettis was not only willing to take the fight but he asked for it.
He may not have a number next to his name in the welterweight rankings but Thompson knows Pettis has the skills to make noise at 170 pounds so he’s anticipating a war on Saturday night in Nashville.
“You’ve got a lot of guys coming up from the 155-pound division and doing work at 170. Donald Cerrone, Michael Chiesa just came up and submitted Carlos Condit, who Anthony Pettis submitted,” Thompson said. “He’s no joke on the ground. He’s a high-level grappler. I think a lot of people underestimate that. I do have to be careful.
“I’m not giving up on that title and I do want to work my way back up to face [Kamaru] Usman if he still has [the belt] when I get there. I’m not taking Anthony Pettis lightly at all.”