Stephen Thompson’s recent record seems worse than it is
Stephen Thompson’s first six years as a professional MMA fighter saw him put together a 13-1 record and earn a shot at the UFC welterweight crown. The past five years have not been as kind to Thompson. His record over that span is 3-5-1. Despite that run, which includes a one-sided decision setback to Belal Muhammad on December 18, the 38-year-old “Wonderboy” is not thinking retirement.
“I lost my fight – got manhandled for three rounds,” Thompson said on his YouTube channel (via MMA Fighting). “Yeah, man – it was a sucky experience, to be honest with you. I don’t know why this happens, but I had a great camp. Camp was awesome. I was in the greatest shape of my life. I was in shape, I felt strong, and then things start to kind of get a little weird whenever you’re getting ready to go out. You’re in the back kind of warming up and your legs start to feel tingly. That’s not a good sign.
“My weight cut was great, actually. I got down in weight super fast, way easier than my last one, and weight cut was good. I think maybe it had something to do with my rehydration – not sure. But I felt exhausted, felt super tired right out of the first round. I was tired. I didn’t want to say anything to my coaches or anything that my legs were feeling tingly...
“Everybody’s expecting me to go out there and just put a whooping on this guy and then he ends up throwing me around for three rounds. I don’t know. I don’t know why. Hopefully something better will come out from it.”
Thompson’s record is not great. There’s no denying that, but that record deserves to be put into context.
Following his 13-1 run, Thompson fought UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley to a majority draw. He followed that with a majority decision loss in their rematch. Thompson was ranked No. 2 in the official UFC welterweight rankings after the Woodley battles.
Thompson then defeated No. 4 ranked Jorge Masvidal via unanimous decision. That win moved Thompson to No. 1 in the rankings. He then dropped a unanimous decision to No. 8 ranked Darren Till, who missed weight (174.5) for the contest. Thompson dropped to No. 3 in the rankings after the Till fight. In his next outing, former UFC lightweight champion, Anthony Pettis knocked him out, which dropped Thompson to No. 9 in the official UFC welterweight rankings.
Those back-to-back wins earned Thompson the No. 4 ranking and a fight against the No. 2 ranked Gilbert Burns. Burns won that bout by decision. The Muhammad bout followed the loss to Burns. Thompson was ranked No. 5 ahead of that bout, while Muhammad came in at No. 10.
With context, Thompson’s record is not awful. In his five recent losses, he’s dropped four decisions and been knocked out once. All Thompson’s losses came against top-10 opponents or with Pettis, an ex-champion who was moving up in weight.
Thompson’s take on retirement is — and his record seems to back him up — that it’s not something on his mind right now.
“I can’t believe people are saying that I’m old and I should retire,” Thompson said. “I feel like people that do retire, when they sit down on the chair, they just feel like they should retire. Like just, their body’s beat up, aches and pains.… When I sit here and I’m sitting down in this chair, I feel great. I feel fine. I feel better than I was five years ago. I just don’t get it.”