Last night (Feb. 22, 2014) Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweights Stephen Thompson and Robert Whittaker faced off on the opening main card bout of UFC 170 from Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Talented striker Thompson came in with two straight victories over Chris Clements and Nah-Shon Burrell. "Wonderboy" brought a ton of hype with only one loss on his mixed martial arts (MMA) record, a decision to relentless finisher Matt Brown in only his second UFC bout.
Winner of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Smashes," Whittaker got off to a hot start in UFC. However, veteran experience edged won out when Court McGee outpointed him at UFC Fight Night 27. Needing to avoid a second straight loss, Whittaker had a lot more pressure on his shoulders than the streaking Thompson.
The burden proved too much to bear for the now-skidding Whittaker after he met up with Thompson's championship-level kickboxing. Let's take a look back at "Wonderboy's" masterful performance at UFC 170.
Thompson came out landing precise shots, moving in and out with ease. He bloodied Whittaker's nose early on, continually peppering him with sharp straight shots. Still, Whittaker maintained his aggressiveness by controlling the octagon. Thompson unleashed a big right hand that dropped Whittaker, rushing in with a flurry that had Whittaker in serious danger. Referee Mario Yamasaki stepped in to stop the fight, wrapping up a very impressive win for Thompson.
The technical knockout finish marks three straight wins for Thompson, who has recovered fully from his loss to Brown. After the fight, "Wonderboy" announced that he was still a striker developing his overall MMA skillset. That's a true statement, and it's also scary news for the rest of the stacked UFC welterweight division.
"Wonderboy" could be fighting another Top 15-ranked opponent his next time out, or UFC could choose to bring him along slowly. Either way, it's clear that the future is bright for the rapidly developing former International Kickboxing Federation (IKF) champion. A tough fight for him would be gritty veteran Mike Pyle, who also won at UFC 170.
If Thompson can round out his already world-class striking with a grappling game to match, we could have a young champion in the making.
The loss is an extremely disheartening one for Whittaker. After exploding onto the UFC scene with two straight victories, he's now dropped his last two. That's not going to cut it in one of the strongest divisions in all of MMA. As a TUF winner, he'll get at least one more shot in the octagon, but it's time to put up or shut up for the Australian-born Whittaker.
Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson continued to deliver on his huge hype with a first round finish of Robert Whittaker. After three wins in a row, has Thompson earned a big name fight?