No more ‘games’ – Stephen Thompson sets ground rules for next opponents after UFC 291 fiasco

Stephen Thompson lays out his conditions for future opponents after a forgettable experience at UFC 291.

By: Milan Ordoñez | 4 months ago
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Stephen Thompson was originally part of the UFC 291 main card lineup. “Wonderboy” had Michel Pereira as his supposed opponent, but the pairing ended up scrapped when the latter missed the welterweight mark by four pounds. 

The fallout of Pereira’s weight miss was already a headache for Thompson to deal with. Now, the 40-year-old veteran has one major condition for his future opponents. 

Stephen Thompson describes UFC 291 Pereira’s weight miss as a ‘slap in the face’

In his post-UFC 291 appearance on the MMA Hour, Wonderboy was immediately reminded by his 2018 Fight Night headliner with Darren Till. The two faced each other at a catchweight after Till missed weight by three and a half pounds. 

“When he didn’t [make weight], it was Darren Till all over again,” he said. 

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Liverpool: Thompson vs Till, May 27, 2018; Liverpool, United Kingdom; Stephen Thompson (red gloves) fights Darren Till (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Echo Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports, 27.05.2018 16:38:02, 10863451, UFC Fight Night, Stephen Thompson, Darren Till, MMA PUBLICATIONxINxGERxSUIxAUTxONLY Copyright: xPerxHaljestamx 10863451
Thompson vs. Till in Liverpool in 2018. IMAGO | USA Today Network

The number seven-ranked Stephen Thompson took a fight against a lower-ranked Pereira, which he felt was a huge favor for the Brazilian. 

“[I’m] giving this guy who’s ranked No. 15 the opportunity to come up and fight me, which guys have done in the past for me. The Johny Hendricks’ [fight], the Rory MacDonalds, the Jake Ellenbergers, I wasn’t even ranked, these guys gave me that opportunity. 

“I’ve been doing that with a lot of guys, Vicente Luque, Geoff Neal, all these guys. Even Michel Pereira, who’s [ranked] 15, giving these guys an opportunity to come up. But I feel like it’s almost a slap in the face whenever they don’t make weight.”

Wonderboy highly values both the verbal and written contract that fighters give each other once they sign on the dotted line. 

“When you sign that contract, you’re giving your word, a man’s word, which nowadays it doesn’t mean a whole lot to some people but to me it is. 

“It’s your word that you’re going to do what’s on this contract to be able to make this fight happen and that’s make weight. It’s one thing. Just make weight.”

Stephen Thompson explains his grueling experience during a weight cut

According to Dana White, Thompson refused to fight the overweight Pereira, which led to a back-and-forth discussion about show money. The former title challenger did admit to turning down the fight, and he had his reasons. 

“Everybody knows what happened with Till — I told myself then after that fight, I will never do this again. I will never let this happen again.

“[Darren Till] was just a big body. I could feel it out there. It does make a difference. When you’re depleting yourself and you’re already lean and you go into fight camp and you have to cut 11 to 12 pounds more of water weight and you’re struggling. 

“You feel like death. Your voice changes. Your eyes are sinking into the back of your head. Your head hurts. You’re going through cramps. You step on that scale and you’re still 174 and you still have to get down there. 

That’s how I feel whenever I step on the scale,” said Thompson, who weighed in at 170.5 pounds for UFC 291. 

Stephen Thompson has a message for future opponents

After what he’d gone through at UFC 291, Thompson laid out one (theoretically) simple condition for future opponents. 

“I want everybody to know right now in the 170 division, that if you’re going to fight me now you better be on weight or it’s not going to happen,” he said. 

“I’m at a place in my career where I want to fight fairly. I don’t want to play any games.

“I don’t know what needs to be done but I think there should be more and greater consequences for these guys who are coming in with no integrity and no honor to make weight.”

Wonderboy says he’s ready to be part of UFC 295 in New York City this November, but not against Pereira. 

“Madison Square Garden is my plan. I don’t care [who I fight], just not Michel Pereira. He doesn’t deserve it. I gave you the shot.

“I’m not going to give you that chance again. There’s other guys who are out there who are more deserving.”

Stephen Thompson (17-6-1) hasn’t fought since December when he defeated Kevin Holland via fourth-round TKO. The two men took home a $50K bonus for Fight of the Night. 

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About the author
Milan Ordoñez
Milan Ordoñez

Milan Ordoñez has been covering combat sports since 2012 and has been part of the Bloody Elbow staff since 2016. He’s also competed in amateur mixed martial arts and submission grappling tournaments.

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