Stephen 'Wonderboy' Thompson: Who wouldn't want to see me versus Robbie Lawler?
Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson was already looking at his upcoming fight with Johny Hendricks as a potential No. 1 contender’s match, with the winner moving on to face champion Robbie Lawler for the title later this year.
When he got the call that the fight was getting bumped up to the main event, Thompson was even more convinced that if he beats Hendricks impressively, calling for the title shot is the only move that made sense.
"That's always in the back of my head. Depending on how I go out there and finish Johny Hendricks, I think yeah, I think I deserve to step out there for the title," Thompson told FOX Sports. "Just be confident in what I want and let Dana White and those guys know 'hey give the new guy a crack at it.’ The top three or four guys have already had their chance, why not give the South Carolina boy his shot?"
Thompson was ultra-excited to finally face a top-five fighter and former champion like Hendricks and when he found out the UFC was making this a five-round main event, his anticipation only grew bigger.
Of course the UFC failed to tell Thompson that the main event was shifting from three to five round when he was first offered the main event slot, but it didn't upset the karate prodigy because he had quietly been preparing for that possibility all along.
"Preparing for a five-round fight in my last one with Jake Ellenberger, I kind of kept with that training," Thompson revealed. "For this fight, even though I knew it was only three, five-minute rounds, I was still doing five, five-minute rounds just in case something like this happened. Fighting the No. 2 guy and then hopefully fighting for the title in the near future. So I've been training for it."
The matchup with Hendricks not only gives Thompson a chance to fight one of the best welterweights in the world, but it gives him a shot to dispel rumors that he will eventually falter when facing an elite wrestler inside the Octagon.
In Thompson's lone loss in the UFC, fellow top-10 fighter Matt Brown took him to the mat repeatedly over three rounds and battered him on the ground.
Thompson promises he's learned a lot since then, especially training with former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman and he's happy to test his wrestling against arguably the best takedown artist in the welterweight division.
"I'm really confident and going back and looking at that fight when he fought Matt Brown, me and him have a totally different style. I remember stepping out for my fight against Matt Brown, it was my second (UFC) fight, I had a really bad weight cut, so I felt that I wasn't 100-percent and I've grown leaps and bounds since then," Thompson said.
"It's difficult when you step out there with somebody like me and my offense. I've worked a lot on my wrestling and my ground (game) for Johny Hendricks. I know he's the best wrestler I've faced so far, but I've prepared for this the same way as every fight -- everybody looks to take me down."
While Thompson hasn't been promised anything from the UFC about a title shot with a win, he's still approaching this bout with a championship dancing through his mind.
He knows that the UFC is all about putting on the best possible fights for the fans, and Thompson can't imagine a better fight in the entire welterweight division than pitting his striking against someone like Lawler inside the Octagon.
"He's a striker, I'm a striker. That's what people want to see," Thompson said about a potential fight with Lawler. "People want to see fighters get punched in the face. They want to see a spectacular knockout and that fight has it written all over it so who wouldn't want to see that fight? I think it would be awesome."