Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson is trying to inch his way back to a title shot, and has to fight lesser-ranked fighters to do it. According to the man himself, the UFC doesn't even care about rankings, anyway.
Thompson was unsuccessful in his two attempts to unseat UFC Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley in both 2016 and 2017. With the champion out with an injury and new blood rising in the division, Thompson will take on upstart Darren Till in Liverpool on May 27.
In an interview with Fightful.com's James Lynch, Thompson revealed why he was initially hesitant to fight Till, which contributed to both men taking well over six months away from the cage.
"At the time, I didn't even know who Darren Till was, to be honest with you -- until he fought Cerrone. He beat three guys that I never heard of, a guy on a three-fight losing streak. I don't even know who this guy is, no I'm not fighting this guy. I wanted to see where the welterweight division was going, who Tyron was fighting next. I was ranked number one. I tried to get that RDA fight, that wasn't happening," Wonderboy told us.
Thompson originally wanted to compete for the interim title that Rafael Dos Anjos and Colby Covington will compete for at UFC 225 in Chicago on June 9, and is left puzzled by UFC's matchmaking.
"There was talk about the interim title, and I wanted to see if I was at the top of the list for that -- I wasn't. You have two guys fighting for that coming up and that's kind of disappointing. Then you have the number one contender fighting the seventh-ranked guy. I'm not underestimating him at all, I just don't think the UFC is going by the rankings anymore. It's just the entertaining fights, I think," said Thompson. "I'm excited for it, because it's a standup fight. Most of the guys I've fought in the 170 division are wrestlers."
When pressed on the issue, Thompson continued to rail against the often controversial UFC rankings, saying that the bookings were questionable.
"It was if you're going by the rankings. I understand they're going after that demographic in Liverpool. He's a big talker and he's undefeated. He's 16-0, so there you go. If you're in the UFC, whether you are in the bottom of the rankings or the top, you have the ability to lose to any of them. Yeah, I was disappointed at first. I just fought the number four guy, beat him. I felt like I could have knocked him out if I didn't break my thumb early in the second. When I was coming up, I was ranked number 2, and I had to fight the number one guy to get a title shot. I'm a fighter, and I'm ready to go out there and do battle," said Wonderboy.
In the full interview, Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson (14-2-1) discusses his upcoming fight against Darren Till (16-0-1) at UFC Fight Night 130 on May 27.Stephen also talks about coming off an injury, his training camp for this fight and what's next for him.