UFC Nashville headliner Stephen Thompson is using the reigning UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier as inspiration as his own career enters it late stages.
In many ways, it’s hard to believe that the former two-time welterweight title-challenger is 36-years-old.
Entering the sport just before his 27th birthday, the majority of Thompson’s earlier years were spent establishing himself as a kickboxer. His transition to mixed martial arts was astounding to watch before our eyes as the relatively green grappler (at the time) began to tailor his style to the more multi-dimensional approach required.
Tonight, he takes on his fellow striking maestro Anthony Pettis in the UFC Nashville headliner, a bout that should prove to be a massive one for his hopes of inserting himself back into the welterweight title-discussion.
Not that a win will do it, per se, but in all honesty, if Wonderboy does lose, it will be a much trickier and more drawn-out climb towards Kamaru Usman’s title than it would have been otherwise.
If you want to know how we see that fight playing out, read our prediction here.
Speaking to MMAJunkie in a recent interview, Wonderboy explained how he looks to the likes of Daniel Cormier for inspiration in extending his run at the top.
“It’s not even up there yet. I guess I don’t know.
“I consider myself a young 36-year-old and people are fighting until later ages.
“Cormier is 39 or 40 and he’s the champ. I look at that as inspiration. I haven’t taken too much damage, so I’ve got a while left in this sport.”
Thompson did not appear to slowing down last time we saw him in action – in his narrow UFC Liverpool headlining loss to Darren Till but even still, exceptions to the laws of time are few and far between and with a style as dependant on speed and agility as his, it will be interesting to see how he adapts his game if he does, in fact, decide to hang around for a few more years.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena