Stephen Thompson, known professionally as “Wonderboy”, is by any measure one of the best strikers in MMA history. His kickboxing record before joining the sport was a flawless 58 wins and zero losses. Thompson is known for his efficient and dynamic karate style. His stance is bladed sideways, very uncommon in MMA, and he utilizes quick karate flurries where he darts in and out on his opponent. He is all at once elusive, fierce, and very accurate and has made many opponents lose their gameplan in frustration. At one point, it looked like he was destined to become the UFC welterweight champion, but as fans know, things didn’t exactly pan out that way.
The Rise of Wonderboy
The South Carolina native is considered by many to be one of the most accomplished fighters to never win a UFC title. His rise to the championship was stellar, with a seven fight win streak against some of the best welterweights of all time including wins over the future middleweight champion Robert Whittaker, future Bellator welterweight champion Rory MacDonald, former UFC welterweight champion Johnny Hendricks and others.
It seemed like nothing could stop him until he collided with Tyron Woodley for the vacant welterweight belt. Across their two encounters for the championship, they drew the first fight and Wonderboy then lost a close but decisive rematch. It seemed that Wonderboy finally met his match in the heavy-handed striker Woodley. Since their last meeting, a lot has changed in the welterweight landscape.
The Struggle to Comeback
Wonderboy went through a somewhat rough patch following his two championship failures, but has finally found his footing again. After a decision loss to Darren Till in England and suffering his first KO of his entire career to natural lightweight Anthony Pettis, it may have seemed like the best days were behind him.
While he is getting older, Wonderboy showed that he can still hang with any fighter in the UFC when he faced off against up and comer Vicente Luque last November. He absolutely dismantled him, beating the Brazilian on every level before winning by decision. Fans are wondering, what’s next for this striker, and can he still make another championship run?
The Future for Wonderboy
On September 20th Thompson’s divisional rivals Colby Covington and Tyron Woodley finally face off to settle their differences. If we refer to Oddschecker for the latest odds, we can see that Colby is the clear -255 favorite in this matchup, though Woodley cannot be counted out. Wonderboy could easily be fighting the winner of this bout, as he is just below them in the rankings.
It’s unclear if fans would be interested in seeing Woodley vs Thompson III, but a win against his biggest rival could be the big push that Thompson needs to get back into the championship discussion. While Thompson currently sits at #6 in the welterweight rankings, the fighters ahead of him are not going to be easy to get through.
Since Wonderboy’s initial championship run, the welterweight division has become stacked with top-tier grapplers. Wonderboy has great agility to defend against the takedowns, but eventually these grapplers like Gilbert Burns, Colby Covington or current champion Karmu Usman will be able to take him to the mat.
At age 37, it's not likely that Thompson will be fighting for too many more years and though we would have liked to see him as a champion one day, it is looking more unlikely as the years go by. With that in mind, we sincerely hope that South Carolina passes the MMA legalization bill so we can see Thompson headline a UFC card in his own backyard. That would be a great note for him to retire on if that is on the horizon.