Stephen Thompson: ‘I’m Not Slowing Down’ (2024)

At 40 years old, Stephen Thomspon is still one of the best 170-pound fighters on the planet.

Currently ranked No. 6 in the UFC’s welterweight rankings, the former title challenger has stayed just a few consecutive wins away from another chance at fight for the title ever since his rematch with Tyron Woodley at UFC 209.

After suffering a few defeats to elite grapplers in Gilbert Burns and Belal Muhammad, “Wonderboy” turned back time in his Fight of the Night TKO victory against Kevin Holland in December of last year.

Order UFC 296: Edwards vs Covington

Entering 2023, Thompson hoped he could string together a few wins and be close to fighting for the welterweight title by year’s end. Unfortunately for Thompson, 2023 didn’t quite go as planned. Originally scheduled to fight Michel Pereira in April, the fight would be postponed until July.

Stephen Thompson Recalls His UFC Debut

Stephen Thompson: ‘I’m Not Slowing Down’ (1)

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Stephen Thompson Recalls His UFC Debut


The small silver lining was they’d now be competing in Salt Lake City, Utah, in front of Thomspon’s friends and family. At weigh-ins, Pereira weighed in three pounds over the welterweight limit, causing the fight to be removed from the card.

The UFC eventually abandoned that matchup, eventually offering “Wonderboy” the perfect opportunity to prove to the matchmakers that he’s ready for his third shot at a UFC title: a fight against No. 5-ranked Shavkat Rakhmonov at UFC 296: Edwards vs Covington in Las Vegas.

MORE UFC 296:Countdown|Fight Card Preview|Main Event Breakdown|Covington In His Own Words|Colby Rates Fellow Welterweights|MMA Coaches Break Down Main Event

“I didn’t get to fight in Utah, I had a lot of friends and family there to support me and they didn’t get to watch me fight,” Thompson said. “It all turned out positively. I’m fighting the No. 5 ranked guy in the division in Shavkat, so I’m looking forward to that.”

“I wanted somebody ranked in the Top 5. Everybody that I’ve been fighting has been below me [in the rankings], so fighting Shavkat is awesome. Everybody’s saying he’s the next guy to win the title, so what a better guy to face than this guy to prove to everybody I can still make it to the title.”

Stephen Thompson: ‘I’m Not Slowing Down’ (2)

Stephen Thompson punches Kevin Holland in a welterweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at Amway Center on December 03, 2022 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Rakhmonov holds a perfect 16-0 record, picking up five wins since he made his UFC debut in 2020. In his handful of Octagon appearances, Rakhmonov’s collected four submission wins and a first-round knockout.

Thomspon made sure to do his homework, though. During his fight week interview with, “Wonderboy” detailed all of the reasons Rakhmonov’s been able to stay unbeaten in his nine-year professional mixed martial arts career:

“He’s good everywhere,” Thompson said of Rakhmonov. “He reminds me of Rory MacDonald, good striking, good grappling, good wrestling. He’s the whole package. I came from an era where there were still specialists; I’ve faced guys like him before. I know he’s going to be very tough, and I’ve prepared myself for that. I don’t go out there looking for the knockout. If it happens, it happens, if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I just visualize my hand being raised at the end of the fight.

“He keeps himself very calm out there. He’s very calculative out there in the fight. He sees his openings and he takes advantage of them. He’s watching every movement his opponent makes and he’s adjusting. It’s a chess match for him, which makes it fun.”

Stephen Thompson: ‘I’m Not Slowing Down’ (3)

Stephen Thompson kicks Gilbert Burns of Brazil in their welterweight fight during the UFC 264 event at T-Mobile Arena on July 10, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Like chess, Thompson said one of the biggest difference makers when he steps in the Octagon is to pick up on his opponent’s strategy and change game plans on the fly. “Wonderboy,” who said himself that he comes from an era of MMA where there were specialists, meaning a fighter was dominant at primarily one discipline, believes his striking is so special that it will still cause issues for current-day fighters that are so well-rounded.

“Everybody that I face is worried about [my style] because I’m such a puzzle,” Thompson said. “With the angles, the different varieties of techniques, the switching sides, [them] not knowing my speed, and I try to mix it up. I think it’s a very frustrating style, and you don’t really know unless you’ve been out there with somebody with my style. He’s got to be on point every step of the way with me.”

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Not only does his own skill and recent success provide enough motivation to continue trying to capture UFC gold, but Thompson also draws inspiration from former champion Glover Teixeira, who became the oldest first-time champion in UFC history when he defeated Jan Błachowicz in October 2021.

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“It goes to show that, number one, I can still be 40 years old and on top of the game,” Thompson said. “I’ve been in the Top 10 for a very long time and my goal is to stay there to get the title. I’m not slowing down. I can still go out there and prove to the UFC and to fans that I can still fight for the title and win the title.

“Everything is leading up to this moment right now. Now is the time for me to go out there and prove to the UFC and the world that I deserve that title shot. I put many hard years of work into this and I know that I’m the better of the two. Knowing that, not thinking it, makes all the difference in the world.”

Stephen Thompson: ‘I’m Not Slowing Down’ (2024)


What style of karate does Stephen Thompson do? ›

Thompson is well known for his Kempo style of karate which he has trained in from an early age. This karate background is evident in the stance he adopts, as his feet stand far apart and he sits wide with his hands low.

Did Stephen Thompson retire? ›

Regardless, Thompson seems to have no intention of retiring. He hopes to secure his third crack at welterweight gold by scoring a win tonight.

Has Wonderboy been submitted? ›

Shavkat Does It Again, Becomes First To Submit 'Wonderboy'

Who did Stephen Thompson lose to? ›

Stephen Thompson Record: 17-7-1
lossStephen Thompson Anthony Pettis4:55
lossStephen Thompson Darren Till5:00
winStephen Thompson Jorge Masvidal5:00
lossStephen Thompson Tyron Woodley5:00
17 more rows

What black belt is Stephen Thompson? ›

Five-time world champion kickboxer. I hold a 6th degree black belt in Tetsushin Ryu Kempo Karate, a 1st degree in Tetsushin Ryu Jujitsu and a brown belt in RCJ Machado Jiu-jitsu.

Did Stephen Thompson get paid? ›

"Wonderboy" has not been paid his show money and UFC President Dana White said Thompson won't be getting that part of the purse. The UFC boss said he's working with Thompson's team on camp costs, but during an appearance on SiriusXM's "Unlocking The Cage," Stephen Thompson said no money has come his way.

Has Stephen Thompson ever won a title? ›

37-0, 16 amateur kickboxing titles: 1999 ISKA Georgia State Middleweight Amateur Champion.

Did Jack Black walk out with Stephen Thompson? ›

Stephen 'Wonderboy' Thompson was accompanied to the Octagon by a very special guest at UFC 296 - with Jack Black walking out alongside him before his fight against Shavkat Rakhmonov.

Who is Stephen Thompson fighting next? ›

Fight History
Dec 16, 2023S. RakhmonovUFC 296: Edwards vs. Covington
Dec 3, 2022K. HollandUFC Fight Night: Thompson vs. Holland
Dec 18, 2021B. MuhammadUFC Fight Night: Lewis vs. Daukaus
Jul 10, 2021G. BurnsUFC 264: Poirier vs. McGregor 3
1 more row

Why do they call Stephen Thompson Wonderboy? ›

This was his way to show me that I was better than I thought I was,” Thompson said. “I ended up beating the brakes off the guy, and my opponent said afterward, 'I wondered why I even stepped in the ring with this boy. ' The announcer started calling me Wonderboy and it's stuck ever since.”

Is Stephen Thompson a southpaw? ›

Southpaw fighters like Stephen Thompson and Nick Diaz have honed their craft, utilizing their stance to secure victories with precision strikes.

What is Wonderboy's win-loss record? ›

Stephen Thompson "Wonderboy" Record: 17-7-1, Stats, and Past Fights.

Why was Wonder Boys' fight cancelled? ›

Link copied! Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson will not receive his purse despite making weight for his scheduled fight with Michel Pereira at UFC 291, according to UFC president Dana White. Thompson declined to move forward with the fight after Pereira missed weight by three pounds.

Is Stephen Thompson undefeated in kickboxing? ›

Stephen 'Wonderboy' Thompson holds an undefeated record of 20 wins, 0 losses, and 1 no-contest in professional kickboxing. He began his martial arts journey in kickboxing, where his father, Ray, served as his trainer and manager.

How is Stephen Thompson related to Chris Weidman? ›

Stephen Thompson's brother Tony Thompson is married to Chris Weidman's sister, making the two fighters brothers-in-law.

What style of karate is used in Cobra Kai? ›

Cobra Kai Karate is it's own style derived from Shotokan and Tang Soo Do. It uses lot's of side kicks, knee kicks, round house kicks, and Sweeps in combination with straight punches, backfists, and chops. Cobra Kai is a derivative of American Tang Soo Do, popularized by Karate Champion Chuck Norris.

What fighting style is used in undisputed? ›

Techniques: Boyka is an expert fighter who can use various martial arts techniques at his disposal. He is seen using techniques such as Mma, Judo, Muay Thai, Boxing, Taekwondo, Jiu-Jitsu and various acrobatics. Later, he seems to adopt various techniques used by his opponents.

What style of karate does Steven Seagal practice? ›

A 7th-dan black belt in aikido, he began his adult life as a martial arts instructor in Japan where he became the first American to teach in an aikido dojo.

What karate style did GSP use? ›

Fighting style: Kyokushin karate (3rd dan black belt), Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (black belt), Muay Thai, Boxing, Wrestling.

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