Sure, you can talk to Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson about his last fight as many times and for as long you wish. You know, the one that ended with him being knocked out for the first time in his career.
“I don’t mind it, I don’t mind it at all,” Thompson said.
Thompson is something of an anomaly in mixed martial arts. He stands out for his niceness (and his talent, of course), which will be on full display this week for UFC 244 in New York City. Rarely, if ever, will a curse word come shooting out of the mouth of the 36-year-old, South Carolina-raised Thompson. When a phrase that traditionally includes a bad word has begun to be spoken by his mouth, his brain stays a few seconds ahead of him, creating a pause long enough to be noticeable by people and actually detected by free voice-recording transcript software.
Thompson’s congeniality is apparent even more when juxtaposed with main-eventers Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal and talk of their “title” fight to determine the “baddest” fighter in the game Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
Few things seem to outwardly bother Thompson, who faces Vicente Luque in a key welterweight bout on the main card.
“To be honest with you, getting knocked out isn’t that bad,” Thompson said laughing about his loss to Anthony Pettis last March. “It's not what everybody makes it out to me. I was back home the next day. I wasn't too banged up. Didn't have a headache.”
But behind that happy demeanor, positivity and Southern charm, Thompson possesses a darker side. An evil, bad-guy-in-the-movies side.
“I rage playing video games,” Thompson said. “I think that’s the only time you will ever hear me say a cuss word. And I'm on Twitch so I have a lot of fans following me. It's just a chance for fans to ask questions while I'm playing games and you can hang out, but I rage, man. I rage. It's funny. That's it. That's it. Anything else, I'm fine. When I play video games, oh my goodness.”
Thompson (14-4-1) has lost three of his last four fights, an oddity of sorts for a man who went undefeated in more than 50 pro kickboxing matches. The karate-based Thompson doesn’t necessarily see it that way.
“Even though I did lose, yes, the only fights that I actually felt like I actually lost was my Matt Brown fight [in 2012] and my fight with Anthony Pettis,” Thompson said. “Some of the other ones especially the ones with Tyron Woodley, the one with Darren Till, very controversial. I felt like I won those fights, so I really don't stress about those. The only ones I'm actually thinking about, I actually feel I truly lost were those two fights. So, it is kind of weird when you sit there and think about it, man, I lost my last few fights. But for me, I love to compete. I don't do it for the money. That’s just a bonus. I just want to be able to say I fought the best fighters in the world.”
Thompson lost a five-round unanimous decision to England’s Till at UFC Liverpool in May 2018, a fight most scoring the bout, except the three scorers who actually count, saw for Thompson. He also lost a majority decision to Woodley in March 2017 in a rematch of their majority draw four months earlier. The lone win in this span was a unanimous decision over Masvidal in November 2017.
Luque (17-6-1), ranked No. 14 in the UFC welterweight division, is on a six-fight winning streak, including four by knockout.
“Very tough opponent, very strong Dutch kickboxing,” Thompson said. “He’s actually fairly similar to Masvidal. He’s fairly good everywhere. Good wrestling, good jiu-jitsu, trains with high-level guys. So it's going to be a fun fight for sure.”
Luque is headed to New York City, a place Thompson considers his second home as he spends plenty of time here with his brother-in-law Chris Weidman, with the objective of beating up “Wonderboy” and he calls it “fun.” What a nice guy, this Thompson fella is.