Former two-time welterweight title challenger, Stephen Thompson is slated to make his Octagon return in December at UFC 296 against the undefeated finishing ace, Shavkat Rakhmonov, however, revealed recently that the pairing may have materialized earlier – if he had not rejected a fight offer.
Thompson, a former two-time welterweight championship challenger under the banner of the UFC, currently holds the number seven rank in the division, having been sidelined since he landed a fourth round corner’s stoppage TKO win over Kevin Holland in the main event of UFC Fight Night Orlando last December.
Slated to return at UFC 291 back in July, Thompson confirmed he turned down a catchweight fight with Michel Pereira, after the Brazilian missed weight for their planned main card fight.
Sidelined since, the Simpsonville native has now been booked to fight the number six rated, Rakhmonov in December at UFC 296, in a barnburning potential welterweight title eliminator.
Stephen Thompson admits turning down fight with Shavkat Rakhmonov
However, admitting we could have seen a clash between himself and the Uzbekistan native earlier that December, Thompson claimed he rejected a prior fight offer from the UFC to challenger Rakhmonov – due to a lack of perceived name value.
“It was a year and a half ao, maybe, I think, the UFC wanted me to fight Shavkat (Rakhmonov), and to be honest with you, I didn’t know who he was at the time,” Stephen Thompson told MMA Fighting. “I think he’s only had, like, five fights in the UFC. Obviously, I turned it down, I didn’t know who the guy was. And then after that I tuned in and I saw him fight Neil Magny, saw him fight Geoff Neal, and I’m like, ‘Bro, this dude’s legit,’ and now he’s ranked above me.”
“So anybody’s that’s ranked above me, I told the UFC I’m down for,” Stephen Thompson explained. “This is the guy I think could possibly be welterweight champ at some point. He’s that good, undefeated, I think he has a 100 percent finish rate, so what better guy to go out there and show the world and the UFC that I deserve a title shot by fighting this guy.”