Top-ranked UFC welterweight Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson may be known as one of the nicest fighters in MMA, but after newly crowned welterweight champion Tyron Woodley snubbed him for a title shot in the aftermath of knockout win over Robbie Lawler in the main event of Saturday’s UFC 201, he may be starting to believe a different approach is necessary.
When questioned by Thompson on the UFC 201 post-fight show, Woodley eschewed with ‘Wonderboy’ in favor of a ‘big money fight’ with the returning Nick Diaz or all-time great former champ Georges St-Pierre, who quickly accepted the fight.
On a seven-fight win streak, he clear top contender spoke up for his case during an appearance on today’s edition of The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, describing his shock at Woodley’s insistence to call his own shots minutes after winning the belt:
“In my head I was like, really, you’re kidding me, right, that he wouldn’t give me this shot? Yeah, he went out there, he defeated Robbie Lawler, but you know, he took this fight, and a lot of people didn’t think he deserved it in the first place, but just seconds after winning that title, already choosing his fights? I mean, come on. Who gets that? Who really gets to do that. I mean, you’re starting to see that a lot more. It’s almost like, do the rankings really count? Do they really matter?”
Thompson thinks Woodley should at least defend his title before calling out big names:
“And I was kind of upset for him to say that just because, he knows I’m the No. 1 guy. He knows I’ve been working really hard. You know, I’m on a seven-fight winning streak. But to pick some, I think you have to defend the title at least once before you can start picking your shot.”
Questioned about his belief if Woodley was ducking him, Thompson responded that he would be fighting “The Chosen One” at Madison Square Garden regardless of what the champ wants:
“I don’t know. I don’t think he’s scared of me, but it almost seems like he just doesn’t want to fight me, he just doesn’t want to step in the ring. I don’t know if he thinks it’s a bad match-up, but no matter what, I’m fighting this guy, I’m fighting Tyron. I’m fighting Tyron Woodley, and it’s gonna be at Madison Square Garden; no ifs, ands, or buts, come on guys, come on UFC, and come on Tyron. You gotta give it to me, man.”
If he were not to get the shot, however, ‘Wonderboy’ expressed his trepidation at not getting the next title fight, which is why the normally reserved phenom suddenly became so vocal today:
“No. If they don’t give this to me, then something is really wrong. It is disappointing to hear that, and it does worry me a little bit, but in my head, I’m getting the shot. I don’t care. I gotta put my foot down, man, I gotta tell everybody how I’m feeling, and as of right now, I’m very disappointed that he wouldn’t take it.”
Thompson was willing to give Woodley credit for the huge shot he landed on Lawler, but he also believes that wasn’t the surging version of Lawler we’d grown accustomed to seeing over the past three years:
“I mean, yes he did land that big one punch, but you know, I don’t know man, it wasn’t enough for me. He did land that one punch, but we all know that wasn’t the same Robbie. Just going out there, looking at the fight, that was the Robbie we all expected, and I think he knows that.”
He named several reasons why we may not have seen the true “Ruthless,” but at the end of the day, Thompson insists something was just off with the former champ, and he may not have been motivated:
“There could be a lot of different reasons why we didn’t see the same Robbie Lawler, but it wasn’t him.”
After repeatedly predicting Lawler would win and then move on to throw down in an exciting war with ‘Wonderboy,’ Thompson admitted he was disappointed at not being the one to dethrone “Ruthless.” He gave some more thinly veiled credit before the new champ before telling him to stop calling out aging legends, who, despite being some of the most recognizable names in MMA, hadn’t won a fight in nearly eight years combined:
“Yeah, I was. I was disappointed because he was the guy I wanted to beat. I wanted to be the guy to take him out. But hat’s off to Tyron, he beat me to it. But he is the champ and I am the No. 1 contender, stop calling people out who haven’t fought in a year or three years. Fight the guy who’s ready, man, fight the guy’s who earned it this year, who’s beat the No. 1, beat the No. 2, and take on me, man. That’s what I got to say to him. I just think it’s kinda crap that he won’t take it.”