After a year off due to injury, Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson was just happy to be back in action at UFC Vegas 17.
The former two-time title contender didn’t just show up on Saturday night, however, as he looked better than ever while winning a lopsided unanimous decision over Geoff Neal in the main event. Thompson was fast on his feet, beating Neal to the punch in nearly every exchange and ultimately out striking him for the better part of all five rounds.
Despite his dominance, Thompson says he actually expected to deliver an even better result but Neal was an incredibly durable opponent, who was well prepared for their fight.
“I thought I was going to be able to piece him up more,” Thompson said when speaking on the UFC post-fight show. “Cause I know he’s the type of guy to come forward and a lot of guys that pressure you end up running into things. He ended up running into a few things but he stayed protected and I couldn’t get him out of position. Normally with the movement, I could feel he was getting frustrated and sometimes those guys put themselves in bad positions and that’s when I can take advantage of that. He did not.
“Whoever he’s been working with is keeping him nice and tight and he felt really good and strong. Out pointed him, came out with the win and moving forward.”
While he remained in control from the first minute of the fight until the very last, Thompson actually faced some adversity in the latter rounds after he suffered a knee injury.
He wasn’t exactly how it happened but Thompson mentioned it to his coaches, which led to them icing down his right leg after there was sizable swelling over his knee. As he arrived for his interview on the post-fight show, Thompson was actually on crutches but he won’t know the severity of the injury suffered for a couple of days.
“Not sure yet. It could be a muscle tear here, which is balled up,” Thompson said pointing to his knee. “If you saw me, I forgot which round it was, I was picking my knee up because I thought this was my kneecap, the bulge on my leg.
“But I think it’s muscle that’s balled up. Staying positive. Hopefully it’s not that bad.”
Obviously, Thompson will have to visit with his physicians before knowing the full extent of the injury in his leg and that will determine the course of action needed to recover as well as the timeline to compete again.
When it comes to his next opponent, Thompson already had an idea in mind after his win as he called for a rematch against Jorge Masvidal after they previously met in 2017. On that night, Thompson dished out a similarly dominant performance before winning a unanimous decision.
Now that Masvidal is actually ranked ahead of him in the welterweight division, Thompson is ready to run it back.
“Well No. 1, I know he was interested if he had won the fight against [Kamaru] Usman the first time, he said he would want to defend [the title] against me,” Thompson said. “I know he wants that win back.
“It’s crazy because he inspires me to keep moving forward, to keep pushing because it wasn’t that long ago I beat him at UFC 217 and now he’s one of the most popular guys in the UFC. Ranked higher than me. I thought we put on a good show the first time and why not do it again?”
Before Thompson can book another fight, he’ll first need to get his leg examined to find out the severity of the injury suffered on Saturday night but he’s definitely put himself into position for a big fight following this latest win at UFC Vegas 17.