Stephen Thompson isn’t just the scout team Anderson Silva anymore.
"Wonderboy" showed off his precision, technical striking Saturday night culminating in a first-round TKO (3:43) of Robert Whittaker at UFC 170 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Thompson has been best known thus far as Chris Weidman’s training partner before the two Silva fights.
Thompson (9-1), a karate black belt, picked fellow karate specialist Whittaker (11-4) apart with tight combinations and unorthodox kicks. Then he lowered the boom with a gorgeous 1-2, the right cross dropping Whittaker. Some hard ground and pound followed and seconds later referee Mario Yamasaki was pulling Thompson off.
"I’m a striker, that’s who I am," Thompson told Joe Rogan after the fight. "I wouldnât say I’m the best MMA fighter. I’m working on it. I’m getting better everyday."
Thompson, 31, is on the outside looking in when it comes to the UFC’s top 15 at welterweight. And he’s largely untested against legitimate wrestlers. But as far as stand up goes, there are few better in MMA right now. With four wins in five UFC fights, it’s time "Wonderboy" gets a step up in competition.
Whittaker, 24, has now lost two straight. But falling to Thompson and Court McGee probably aren’t going to earn him a UFC release. He’s still young and talented. Whittaker is an athletic, powerful striker who just ran into a more technical, polished version of himself.