Stephen Thompson gave a breakdown of the top 10 UFC welterweight fighters for MMA On Point in December 2020. Wonderboy admitted that grappling with a Jiu-Jitsu ace in Burns would not go well for him if they fought.
Thompson highlighted the reach advantage he has over Burns, as he sees the four-inch reach advantage as a significant factor.
"(He has) power in his hands. One hitter quitter power... He's a high-level grappler. Could I compete with this guy on the ground? Heck no, man. I've got the reach on him. So that's going to play the part."
Stephen Thompson went on to speak about how the grappling exchanges might play out if he gets taken down to the ground. While he is confident about getting back up if a takedown happens near the Octagon walls, Wonderboy knows that a takedown in the center would mean a certain defeat.
"If I get taken down close to the cage, my goal is to get my back to the cage asap (and stand back up using the cage). Out in the open... he can take that situation down the rabbit hole that I am not able to get out of. Up against the cage, if I get myself up against the cage... He's not gonna take my back. Hopefully I can defend every one of his takedowns or he is going to go out there and take me down one time and next thing you know I am being choked out... and sometimes, that's the way the fight game is."
Stephen Thompson is a decorated striker and a seasoned veteran of the sport. The major takeaway from Wonderboy's breakdown is that he knows the limitations of his fighting style.
Stephen Thompson and Gilbert Burns have verbally agreed to fight at UFC 264
As reported by ESPN, the UFC is close to finalizing the welterweight bout between No. 6-ranked Stephen Thompson and No. 2-ranked Gilbert Burns for UFC 264.
Stephen Thompson (16-4-1 MMA, 11-4-1 UFC) is a former two-time title challenger who lost razor-thin decisions to former champion Tyron Woodley. Wonderboy's last fight was a dominant unanimous decision win against Geoff Neil on the Final Night event in 2020. He is currently riding a two-fight winning streak after suffering two consecutive losses against Darren Till and Anthony Pettis.
Gilbert Burns (19-4 MMA, 12-4 UFC) is fresh off a loss against champion Kamaru Usman at UFC 258 in February 2021. Following his loss to Usman, Burns had shown inclination towards fighting No.1-ranked Colby Covington. However, Covington refused to take the fight and reiterated that he will wait for the title opportunity to show up.