Stephen Thompson vs. Shavkat Rakhmonov has officially been booked for a matchup between top-10-ranked welterweights.
Over the past week, Dana White has announced a handful of intriguing matchups to end the year, including Leon Edwards vs. Colby Covington, Alexandre Pantoja vs. Brandon Royval, Tony Ferguson vs. Paddy Pimblett, Jiri Prochazka vs. Alex Pereira, and more.
During the week of shocking announcements, Stephen Thompson entered the mix on Twitter by saying he signed a contract to fight Shavkat Rakhmonov. It didn’t take long for the UFC CEO to confirm they will meet on December 16 at UFC 296.
Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson is currently listed as the number seven-ranked UFC welterweight heading into his 19th Octagon appearance. He last fought in December 2022, ending a two-fight losing streak with a fourth-round TKO win against Kevin Holland.
Thompson was scheduled to fight Michel Pereira on July 29 at UFC 291. Unfortunately, Pereira missed weight, and ‘Wonderboy’ didn’t agree to a catchweight, leading to friction between the beloved striker and Dana White.
Meanwhile, Shavkat Rakhmonov made his UFC debut in October 2020. Since then, he’s established himself as a legitimate threat to the welterweight throne by winning five consecutive fights, all inside the distance.
Rakhmonov is coming off a statement win against Geoff Neal on March 4, where ‘Nomad’ secured a third-round submission. He now looks to take another step toward a title shot by defeating ‘Wonderboy’ inside the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
What’s at stake between Stephen Thompson and Shavkat Rakhmonov?
At 40 years old, Stephen Thompson hasn’t given up on his dream of becoming a UFC champion. To some people, that may seem unlikely, but a win against Shavkat Rakhmonov could lead to a top-five matchup to put him in the mix.
On the contrary, Rakhmonov is 28 years old, and most fans believe he will inevitably fight for UFC welterweight gold. With that said, ‘Wonderboy’ possesses a tricky fighting style, which could give the Kazakhstan rising contender trouble.
Whoever emerges victorious at the T-Mobile Arena on December 16 will be a significant factor in the welterweight title picture. Later that night, Leon Edwards and Colby Covington will battle for the 170-pound strap.