Stephen Thompson wants no part in the trash talking that most fighters resort to, and some do it better than others. But he understands that it comes with the package that is combat sports.
'Wonderboy' is one of the few fighters who does not engage in trash talking, and also keeps his own calm when subjected to it. Ahead of his UFC Vegas 17 fight with Geoff Neal, Stephen Thompson spoke to ESPN. Among other things, he highlighted how he tackles trash talk from his opponents and why he is motivated to steer clear of it at all times.
Stephen Thompson believes he frustrates trash-talkers
Stephen Thompson is known for his nice behavior and smiling face, which does not wither even in front of harsh trolling or trash talking.
But Stephen Thompson understands that it is part and parcel of the sport, and named Muhammad Ali and Conor McGregor as examples of fighters who do it exceptionally well. These fighters win the fight before it even begins, because their opponents give in to their talking, Thompson stated.
"There's a lot of guys out there who try and get under your skin, and that's part of the fight game. One of the best of the best was Muhammad Ali. And you see guys do it till now... Conor McGregor. We've seen guys beat opponents before they have even stepped out there. So, I know what they're trying to do."
When Stephen Thompson's opponents try to get into his head, they not only fail but end up causing themselves trouble, 'Wonderboy' claimed.
"For me, man, it's just not my personality. They can say anything they want about me and I just eat them up with niceness. And you see a lot of guys who actually... it almost reverses the effect on them. They get frustrated that they cannot make me frustrated."
Why 'Wonderboy' always keeps a smile on his face
Stephen Thompson shared the biggest reason why he chooses to stay calm in the face of trash talking and keeps a smile on his face at all times.
Back home, he teaches MMA to kids, and he wants them to see him and learn self-control.
"I beat them with a smile. That's what I do. Win or lose, I am always smiling. I have got 600-700 kids back home watching every move I make - students that I have. I want to set a good example for them. There are going to be times when people are going to try and get under your skin. You got to have the self control to be able to deal with that. So, that's a big part of it."Published 18 Dec 2020, 01:22 IST