Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson returns to action this weekend (Sat., Dec. 3, 2022), headlining UFC Orlando inside Amway Center opposite the loquacious Kevin Holland. And it’s his first fight since losing to Belal Muhammad via smothering in Dec. 2021.
One of the reasons it took “Wonderboy” so long to return was because he did not want to get stuck fighting another ground specialist who would pin him to the canvas. UFC was hoping to match Thompson against Shavkat Rakhmonov, which just makes us wonder what the affable Canadian did to make UFC’s matchmakers hate him. After telling them he wanted, “somebody who is going to want to strike with me,” Thompson sat out several months before finally getting booked against “Trailblazer.”
Thompson is still hopeful, though, that he’ll get some preferential bookings in the future. In fact, he’s aiming to fight Nick Diaz should he get past Holland this weekend down in the “Sunshine State.”
“You know, I’ve been kind of looking at this [Diaz] fight, and it’s been brought up many times,” Thompson told Submission Radio. “And every time that name comes up it’s just, it’s all smiles on my part. So, I would love to make this happen now. That would be really cool. So, if go out there and I win this fight this Saturday, get my hand raised, and that’s still an option and a potential fight for me. Yes, 100 percent.”
Diaz is rumored to be returning sometime in 2023, but the Diaz brothers are always extremely hard to pin down. The last time Diaz was booked for a bout, he came in and competed with ruptured discs in his neck. Afterward, his coach admitted he only stayed in the fight for a paycheck, which is never something you want to hear. Will Nick actually compete next year? Who knows, although if he never fought again we wouldn’t be surprised.
Thompson is just in a tough spot: UFC’s Welterweight division is packed with powerhouse wrestlers, and he’s a karate guy with decent (but unexceptional) grappling abilities. Sitting at No. 6 in the rankings, he’s surrounded by guys like Sean Brady, Khamzat Chimaev and the aforementioned Rakhmonov, among others.
So, of course he wants to fight Nick Diaz instead! Who wouldn’t.
For now, Thompson will just have to celebrate his fight against Holland, another fighter lacking the wrestling credentials to hang at the top of the division. It’s nice getting to see two stand up fighters get to ply their trade against each other, but it’s not a trend that will continue past a fight or two.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Orlando fight card right here, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 10 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN/ESPN+) at 10 p.m. ET.
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