Stephen Thompson after knocking out Dan Stittgen in the first round at UFC 143 in Las Vegas, Nevada on Feb. 4, 2012. Photo by Esther Lin via MMAFighting.com.
63 straight victories, 37-0 as an amateur kickboxer, 20-0 as a pro kickboxer and 6-0 in mixed martial arts (MMA) including a successful Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) debut at UFC 143 last weekend (Sat. Feb. 4, 2012).
That is the impressive resume of one Stephen Thompson, the welterweight division's newest gem.
Training out of TriStar Gym in Montreal alongside UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre, "Wonderboy" made a successful transition from the world of kickboxing to MMA in 2010. Five wins later, he finds himself right smack in the middle of a shark infested 170-pound division in the world's largest MMA promotion.
After nearly decapitating Dan Stittgen in Las Vegas at UFC 143 with a perfectly placed head kick in round one, Thompson put everyone on notice and proved that his perfect record is well deserved.
With nothing but upside from the young kickboxer and the Octagon jitters out of the way, "Wonderboy" has his sights set on taking the UFC welterweight division by storm. He's already got a nice start, earning a $65,000 bonus check thanks to his "Knockout of the Night" performance in his debut.
Can the fairly new MMA star keep his momentum going under the bright lights against the big boys?
Appearing on Pro MMA Radio, Thompson talks about what it's like to compete under the Zuffa banner and where he draws his MMA inspiration from.
"Early on in the MMA world, Karate was just you know, nobody had any really good things to say about karate. Now that I see somebody like Lyoto Machida, who grew up just like I did, in the schools, in the Academy, to see his success in MMA, does give me some inspiration because we are bringing Karate back."
On getting the call to step up on short notice and fight for the UFC:
"We got the call four weeks ago, it was kind of short notice to set up a training camp and be ready. But when the UFC calls, the biggest stage in the world for MMA and any combat sport, it’s not one of those things where you sit back and ask, "Should I do this or Should I wait?" No, I had to jump on it. I felt like I was ready even though it was short notice. I am always training, I’m the head kick boxing instructor at Upstate Karate so I consider that part of my training. But I am always training with my wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu coaches, so it was fairly easy to get a training camp going."
On who he feels can stand and trade with him on the feet in the welterweight division:
"Definitely Georges (St. Pierre), nobody ever really sees it, I mean he beat Koscheck with a jab, with one technique, a jab. That’s the first thing they teach you in any fight sport and just dominated him with it. You saw some really good 170 (pound fighters) this past weekend. You had Condit and Diaz who are very good strikers. That guy love to stand and bang. In this sport, I would love to do that with some of them. I know a lot of those, they look at my kickboxing background and just kind of underestimate me, just because they think I don’t have a ground game."
On whether he would fight training partner Georges St. Pierre:
"Georges is a very good friend of mine and I have been training with him a very long time. That’s just something that I never thought about doing is ever fighting Georges St. Pierre is because, you know he is a good friend and I wouldn’t , I couldn’t really say anything about it. It would be, I don’t know man, I never really thought about, he is a beast man, he is a monster."
The Karate specialist also talked about the pressure of being undefeated:
"It doesn’t really bother me, I know that going into a fight, there is a little bit of pressure knowing that I haven’t lost yet, but, I do think about it, and if that ever happened, I would just feel really bad for the next guy I fought. Because I would go back into the gym and just train like crazy. I think that would motivate me more, but my goal is for that not to happen."
For his encore performance, Thompson is penciled in to take on grizzled veteran Matt Brown at UFC 145 on April 21, 2012, in Atlanta, Georgia, which is headlined by Jon Jones vs. Rashad Evans.
Any of you Maniacs think Thompson has the chops to compete for the welterweight title one day? Or will "The Immortal" slow down his hype as quickly as it is rising?