After initially turning down a Welterweight scrap against Darren Till due to nagging thumb injuries, Stephen Thompson ultimately caved a few months later and decided to give the “number seven guy” a shot to prove his worth at the upcoming UFC Fight Night 130 event on May 27, 2018 in Liverpool, England.
Aside from wanting to heal up and see how the rest of the division played out, Thompson says one of the reasons he declined to fight Till was for the mere fact that he didn’t know who he was.
“To be honest, I didn’t know who this guy was, when I was approached. ‘Who is this Darren Till?’” proclaimed Stephen during a recent edition of The MMA Hour. “He got a name after knocking out (Donald) Cerrone, which I don’t, Cerrone was on a three-fight losing streak. He was knocked out by Jorge Masvidal, who I just beat,” he added.
“So I was like, ‘Who is this number seven guy? Why is he jumping over everybody else to fight the number one contender? Why am I not fighting the number two guy?’ When I was coming up in the rankings, I had to fight up to number one to get that title. That was another reason I turned down the Till fight right away was because I wanted to fight ‘RDA,’ and that’s not happening.”
To hear “Wonderboy” tell it, the Till matchup was pretty much the only option if he wanted to stay busy since taking on a top contender was out of the question after UFC rejected his team’s plea to put him in an interim title fight instead of Colby Covington.
“So there was nobody else to fight but this guy Darren Till. And it’s in his own backyard? So I was like, ‘Why am I fighting this guy who I don’t even know, in his own hometown?’” added Thompson. “But he keeps asking for it and he is definitely going to get the best ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson come May 27.”
Still, Stephen did try to familiarize himself a bit with Till, but didn’t exactly go full-on film room study sessions. But what he did see of “The Gorilla” didn’t impress him one bit, saying Masvidal is a better fighter overall.
At the end of the day, Thompson says he still has to be on point to bring home the win and won’t underestimate his foe come fight night. Which is a good approach since the last man to claim he didn’t know who Till was before fighting him was on his back seeing stars in the very first round.