Stephen Thompson storms past Johny Hendricks, calls for title shot
The former kickboxing champion put on the most wondrous performance of his MMA career, Saturday night in Las Vegas.
By Elias Cepeda
Stephen Thompson proved that he is ready for a world title shot Saturday night in Las Vegas, using excellent takedown defense, footwork and strike-combinations to score a KO victory over former champion Johny Hendricks.
The finish came at 3:31 of the first round, after a final flurry of strikes floored and slumped Hendricks against the cage. "I came out here to put on a good show," Thompson said, afterwards.
"Hopefully next we get that title belt, baby!"
The former kickboxing champion did more than produce an entertaining main event, he shocked the world by dismantling Hendricks in a way no one has ever come close to doing before, not even his training partner Georges St-Pierre.
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Hendricks was initially effective at closing the distance between he and the dangerous striker, forcing a clinch against the cage. However, Thompson was able to defend the takedown, get free and circle away from the cage.
From there on out, it was all Thompson. He changed stances and snapped kicks, high, low, and everywhere in between to make it difficult for Hendricks to track his legs.
Thompson also used great lateral foot movement to keep from getting cornered against the fence, and lunged in with great timing, over and again with straight punches that hurt the brick-headed Hendricks.
Thompson characteristically also used his legs as weapons, connecting with hard side-kicks to the body as well as with high kicks to the face and head of Hendricks. Ultimately, Thompson was able to predict and counter Hendricks' aggressive and linear movement.
"I knew he was going to keep coming forward until he ran into something," he explained.
"And, he ran into a left hand."
For his part, Hendricks said that he hesitated during the fight too much, and gave full credit to his opponent for the victory. "Hats off," he said.
"He was the better man, tonight. He did an awesome job. I'll be back."
The win is Thompson's sixth straight and improves his record to 12-1. Hendricks' mark falls to 17-4, overall, with the loss.