Following his controversial unanimous decision defeat to Darren Till at May’s UFC Liverpool, top UFC welterweight Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson took the loss like a true pro and didn’t complain.
However, that’s not exactly the case at the current moment.
Thompson is now recovering from a significant knee injury sustained in the fight with Till, and he recently told BJPenn.com that after watching the fight, he believes it stemmed from a second-round side kick to the knee, a tactic that slowed him throughout the fight but had a far more devastating effect when he heard ‘cracking and popping’:
“I did finally watch the fight man. Me and my coaches came back and watched the fight. You know, there was one thing that really slowed me down during the fight and that was the side kick to the knee. It caught me just right in the center of the knee in the first or second round. I believe it was the second round if I remember correctly.
“But yeah man, I heard some cracking and popping and it slowed me down tremendously so it was hard for me to move around the way I wanted to. I was also worried that if he hit it again the fight would be over. Not just that but also my career. It would have been devastating to tear my ACL for a second time. But yeah after watching the fight, you know, there’s always something you can go back and work on.”
‘Wonderboy’ elaborated further on just how serious his injury from the fight with Till was, revealing that he did tear his MCL in the bout but thankfully would not require more surgery:
“You know I tore my MCL in the fight with Till. We did an MRI and thankfully nothing else was damaged. No surgery is required for this injury but I have to give it at least eight weeks to heal properly before I can get back to training.”
Facing an eight-week recovery before he can return to training, ‘Wonderboy’ agreed that side kicks to the knee should be banned from MMA competition. He cited recent instances such as Robert Whittaker’s torn ACL in his first bout versus Yoel Romero last year, noting that Whittaker chose to use the move himself during the rematch, and also stated his belief that Till was legitimately trying to injure him:
“Yeah I feel you there man,” said Thompson. “I honestly think that strike should be made illegal. It could end somebody’s career. You know Robert Whittaker had to have ACL surgery following his first fight with Yoel Romero due to that particular strike. And as you could see, Robert Whittaker made sure to beat Yoel Romero to the punch in their second fight. He threw a lot more than he did this time around.
“It is just a very dangerous technique. I think a lot of fighters throw that strike but sometimes it is for different reasons. When I fought Jorge Masvidal he used that same side kick to the knee. But when Jorge threw it, he was doing so just to keep me away. Not in an attempt to injure my knee. But when I was in the cage fighting Till it felt like ok this guy is trying to break my leg. It was like he had intentions of ripping everything out in my knee. That’s how I felt anyway. Like this dude is really trying to injure me in here. I think it an ugly strike and that it should be made illegal.”