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Stephen Thompson (14-3-1) is a welterweight combatant signed to the Ultimate Fighting Championship. In his next appearance, the 36 year-old will headline opposite Anthony Pettis at UFC Fight Night 148 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee, on March 23.
As we approach the anticipated showdown, here are five things that you might not know about the man they call “Wonderboy.”
He once went unbeaten for nearly five years.Thompson was 1-1 with the UFC when he met Nah Shon-Burrell at UFC 160 in May 2013. After three rounds, Thompson emerged victorious via unanimous decision. He would go on to win his next six bouts with the Las Vegas-based promotion. His list of victims during this run included current middleweight champion Robert Whittaker, Johny Hendricks and current Bellator welterweight king Rory MacDonald.
In November 2016, Thompson, now boasting an 8-1 UFC record, challenged the then incumbent divisional champ Tyron Woodley for the welterweight title at UFC 205. After five competitive rounds, the match was declared a draw. In his next outing in March 2017, a rematch with Woodley at UFC 209, Thompson’s near five-year unbeaten run finally came to an end when he lost a five-round majority decision.
He started combat training at a very young age.Thompson’s father Ray is a former professional kickboxer as well as the owner of the Upstate Karate School gym in South Carolina.
Ray began instructing his progeny in karate and kickboxing when the latter was only at the tender age of 3.
His brother is married to the sister of a former UFC champion.Thompson and Chris Weidman are long-term training partners and close friends. The relationship eventually led to the two families forming an alliance, when in 2016, Thompson’s brother Tony married Weidman’s sister.
“Wonderboy” explained in an interview that year how the relationship started. “…My brother Tony asked to come up and hang out with us. I talked to Chris and he was like, ‘Sure, yeah. Bring him in.’ I didn’t even know Chris had a sister at that time. Next thing you know, they ended up meeting each other, and it was over from there.”
He was an outstanding kickboxer.Thompson was only in his mid-teens when his phenomenal kickboxing ability earned him the moniker “Wonderboy.” In a 58-fight unbeaten career, the Simpsonville, South Carolina, native earned a lengthy list of accolades.
These included winning the 2000 P.K.C National light middleweight title and the U.S.A.K.B.F North American middleweight amateur championship. His crowning achievements in the sport were the 2003 I.A.K.S.A cruiserweight world championship and the 2005 W.A.K.O cruiserweight world championship.
He has not won by stoppage in over three years.During his kickboxing days, “Wonderboy” was known for spectacular knockouts. And he continued in the same vein on transitioning to professional mixed martial arts. Seven (50 percent) of Thompson’s triumphs have come by way of KO/TKO. The most memorable finishes during his tenure with the UFC to date have been the spinning hook kick that took out Jake Ellenberger and the head kick knockout of Daniel Stittgen in his UFC debut, which earned Thompson Knockout of the Night honors.
However, in recent years, he has seemingly become a more cautious fighter. He has not claimed a victory by stoppage since his first-round finish of Hendricks in February of 2016. His last five contests since have all required the judges. Three (60 percent) of them have gone in Thompson’s favor.