Stephen Thompson has only been finished once in his 21-fight professional MMA career. However, the brutal fashion of that one finish remains etched in the minds of fight fans.
Stephen Thompson and Anthony 'Showtime' Pettis met inside the Octagon at UFC Fight Night: Thompson vs Pettis in March of 2019. It was a dynamic matchup with ace striker and kickboxer 'Wonderboy' going up against an unorthodox, fast and diverse striker in Anthony Pettis.
For the majority of the fight, Stephen Thompson was able to exploit his height and reach advantage as he kept Pettis' strikes at bay. However, in the closing moments of the second round, Pettis was able to capitalize on a missed strike from Thompson to mercilessly knock him out.
As the final 10-second indicator of the second round sounded off, Stephen Thompson closed in on Anthony Pettis to execute a side kick. As the kick faded away to the right, Stephen Thompson squared up in front of Pettis and the distance that he had maintained was now gone.
Anthony Pettis kicked off against the cage and landed a thunderous superman punch that sent Stephen Thompson crashing into the canvas. Even though Thompson had attempted to throw a right cross to avoid being hit, the absence of distance between the two made it difficult for him to connect.
As soon as Thompson landed, Pettis followed up with punches and referee Herb Dean rushed in and stopped the fight with just 5 seconds left on the clock for the conclusion of the second round.
Stephen Thompson labels being KO'd "a relief"
Stephen Thompson recently made an appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience and described his only KO loss at the hands of Anthony Pettis.
"It wasn't even hard. I've been hit harder. This was just right on the button. To be honest, it was a relief getting knocked out. I mean I've got close to 80-something fights with kickboxing and MMA together and I've never been knocked out," said Thompson.
"It was always one of those, 'This is gonna be it... this is gonna be the time I get knocked out.' This was always going through my head. And now that it happened, it's not that bad (laughs). I'd rather get knocked out than get the cra*p beaten out of me for five five-minute rounds," added Thompson.