Stephen Thompson will be headlining UFC Vegas 17, the final UFC card of 2020. As 'Wonderboy' prepares for his return against Geoff Neal, Sportskeeda had the opportunity to catch up with the top 170-pound contender, courtesy of the UFC Vegas 17 virtual media day.
In addition to it, Stephen Thompson also admitted that he is open to the idea of fighting Jorge Masvidal in an NMF vs. BMF fight.
Stephen Thompson on preparing for his return amid the pandemic
The last time Stephen Thompson fought in the UFC was at UFC 244. Times have changed since then. Wonderboy's preparations, however, haven't been too bad for his return fight.
The self-proclaimed 'NMF Champion' has been training with the likes of Chris Weidman and working in the gym has kept him in shape:
"To be honest with you, you know, I've been out for a year. You know, broke both my hands a year ago and the whole pandemic thing, and of course, everybody's been out quarantined but where I come from, the little small town of Simpsonville, it hasn't been too bad. You know we had to close down the gym for maybe two months, we had to innovate, do some online classes and things but you know when you get access to a gym, it's kind of hard not to stay in shape, hard not to still improve. So I lived there and even though I was injured for a while, there was always something that I can do, working on my kicks, working on my movement, working on my wrestling, nothing slowed down for me, to be honest with you. Helping fighters get ready for theirs, helping Chris Weidman get ready for his fight kept me in shape, as well. So during this whole pandemic thing, giving my body a chance to heal up, to be honest with you but my skill level improved tremendously."- said Stephen Thompson.
Stephen Thompson on the stylistic difference against Geoff Neal
Recognized as one of the greatest strikers in the sport today, Stephen Thompson claimed that he would be prepared for Geoff Neal's wrestling and ground game. The former welterweight title contender also broke down Neal's style of fighting and compared his opponent's left hand to Conor McGregor's:
"Well Geoff Neal, like I said, he's a big welterweight, you know he's a very strong welterweight. Keeps his right side forward, he loves to throw his left hand, he tries to hit you with that left hand, kind of the same as Conor McGregor. He hits you with it, you're going out. He also has a left high kick that's been dropping people, so that's just another element of his game I gotta watch out for. But the guy's improving every day, every time you see him fight, and that's a dangerous guy. He's doing a lot more wrestling, clinch work, you see that in his last few fights, so I'm prepared for wherever the fight goes. You know I got Chris Weidman, Karl Reed, great wrestler. Carlos Machado, great grapplers that have been helping me get ready for this fight. So like I said before, wherever the fight goes, I'm gonna be prepared for it and I visualized my hand being raised by the end of this fight."- Stephen Thompson added."
Stephen Thompson on maintaining his composure
Being one of the humblest fighters in the sport today, Stephen Thompson briefly opened up on how martial arts helps him stay composed and maintain his calmness despite all the trash talk:
"You know I just think it has a lot to do with who I am and how I was brought up. You know, I was brought up in the Martial Arts and through the Martial Arts. It's a very humbling sport, right? Very humbling for sure but it allows you to be able to be put in uncomfortable situations and know how to cope with that. And that's in everyday life but the Martial Arts has helped me to be able to do that in every aspect of my life. If it's the fight game, if it's outside of it. You know, people do a lot of trash talk and I just eat them up with niceness, you know sometimes it has a reverse effect like they start getting angry 'cause they can't get under my skin. But I just eat them up with niceness man. I just put a smile on my face and keep going. Of course I got a good support system, good family, good friends, who keep a small circle to keep me motivated and focused and nothing really gets me frustrated. And I think the Martial Arts has a lot to do with that for sure."- Stephen Thompson concluded.Published 18 Dec 2020, 17:28 IST