Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson’s legacy in combat sports is one of the best around. After earning himself a record of (57-0) in amateur and professional kickboxing combined, he turned his attention to MMA and took the sport by storm. He has fought and is still fighting the best the UFC has to offer, but after his most recent defeat at UFC 264 to Gilbert Burns, he finds himself in a peculiar position. Time catches up with everybody and the 38-year-old is not getting any younger.
Looking at the welterweight division, the title picture is as congested as it has been in a long time. Welterweight champion Kamaru Usman is due to face arch-rival Colby Covington in a rematch of their classic fight back in December 2019. Waiting patiently for his well-deserved shot at the belt is Leon Edwards, and Vicente Luque has been on a tear in the division and a rematch with Thompson wouldn’t make much sense for the Brazilian at this time. So, who could possibly be next for the UFC veteran? I will take a look at potential opponents below.
Jorge “Gamebred” Masivdal (35-15)
A rematch between these two household names in the welterweight division makes a lot of sense in my opinion. Thompson dominated Masvidal throughout their first match-up, making it look easy from start to finish. Since then, ‘Wonderboy’ has gone (2-3) while Masvidal went on a three-fight KO streak before losing twice to the current champion, Usman. After his devastating knockout victories against Darren Till and Ben Askren, and a dominant performance against Nate Diaz, “Gamebred’s” fame shot through the roof. Masvidal’s stock has definitely taken a hit from his two title fight losses.
A win against a man like Thompson is exactly what he needs to get momentum back, while a win for Thompson would shoot him right back into title contention. You would have to think that Thompson would accept this fight happily after how their first fight went. I’m not sure Masvidal would be as keen to step back in there with the former kickboxer, especially being on a two-fight losing streak.
Michael “Maverick” Chiesa (17-5)
For years, Chiesa put his body through hell trying to make the 156lbs lightweight limit in the early stages of his UFC career. After consecutive losses to Kevin Lee and Anthony Pettis, he decided enough was enough and went up to welterweight. This was a great decision as the Ultimate Fighter Season 15 winner went on a four-fight win streak against top opponents. This run came to an end recently, as Luque submitted him in the first round at UFC 265. Both men are coming off devastating losses and it would make a lot of sense to match these two up in my opinion. It is an old-school grappler versus striker match-up that I’m sure would excite most MMA fans.
Belal “Remember The Name” Muhammed (19-3)
Muhammed was ready to take his opportunity with both hands when he faced Edwards in a short notice fight back in March. Unfortunately, it was ruled a no-contest after he suffered a nasty eye poke from his opponent in the first round. It was scary viewing as Muhammed clearly panicked due to the severity of the poke, but thankfully he was cleared to return back in June. He faced UFC legend, Demian Maia, at UFC 263 and won via unanimous decision. Muhammed looked great in there and will be looking for a higher-ranked opponent in his next outing.
He is currently ranked at number nine, with Thompson ranked at five. With the former coming off a win and the latter coming off a loss, it could make sense, but I feel this is the lowest “Wonderboy” would be willing to drop. It would definitely be a match-up that fans would watch, but a victory for Thompson wouldn’t give him as a big push-up the division as a win against Masvidal would.
“Wonderboy” has looked great in his recent bouts so there is no doubting that he is still able to hang with the best in the division. Whoever he faces next, be sure to tune in, as we don’t know how many times we have left to watch his famous walk-outs to Tenacious D’s song ‘Wonderboy’ or his exciting style in the octagon. Fighters such as Thompson do not come around very often, and I’m sure when he does decide to hang up the gloves, he will be sorely missed by the whole MMA community.
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