Stephen Thompson, who has twice before challenged for welterweight gold, hopes another opportunity can come now that there is a new champion in the division.
“Having a new champion, I knew it was going to be better for my career,” Thompson told MMA Junkie. “Nobody wants to see Thompson vs. Woodley 3, and I kind of understood that. I would have to have two or three more fights before I even get that shot again. This, now that we’ve got a new champion, is going to be a faster way up. The division has changed dramatically since the last time I fought. Got a new champion, Darren Till got knocked out by a guy that I’ve already beat. It’s up in the air. I’m ranked No. 4 right now, so any one of us could be fighting for that title again.”
Former UFC Interim Welterweight Champion Colby Covington is expected to get the next shot at Usman, but nothing has been made official at this time.
Thompson was able to get a bout with former UFC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis at UFC Fight Night Nashville because so many others allegedly turned him down.
“I just couldn’t get (a fight),” Thompson said. “I tried to fight Robbie Lawler, it didn’t happen. (Santiago) Ponzinibbio, Leon Edwards and nothing came to fruition. I was headed to Denver, Colo., for a snowboarding trip, and I took my phone off airplane mode and my phone was blowing up and I’m like, ‘What’s going on?’ I saw Anthony Pettis called me out. I’m like, ‘Wow. Let’s get this thing happening.’ I’ve always been a fan of Anthony Pettis because we have similar styles. I think this is going to be a fun fight. Definitely a fight for the fans.”
UFC Fight Night Nashville takes place on Saturday, March 23 from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee with Stephen Thompson and Anthony Pettis headlining. Fightful is providing live coverage of the event, which streams live on ESPN+.