Stephen Thompson spoke in a recent interview in which he revealed his timeline for his eventual return to the UFC octagon.
It really did seem as though things were going Thompson’s way during his UFC Philadephia’s headlining matchup against the former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis.
For all the complaints that existed in recent years about his methodical approach and the decrease in his output, there was volume to be found in Thompson’s attack from the get-go as he gradually beat down Showtime with a level of dynamism that was seen mostly in his early rise through the UFC ranks.
Of course, things turned ugly for Thompson late in the second-round as a cornered Pettis was able to bounce back with one of the best KO’s of the year – a superman hook that completely stiffened his opponent, earning him his first win at 170lbs.
Speaking to Bloody Elbow, Wonderboy cited August as a likely date for his return, putting around five or six months between then and his last outing.
“Possibly August. I’ll be able to have some contact with sparring at the end of June. I’m staying in shape, but I still want to keep this *points at head* right.
“Where I can get some good sparring in and a good training camp, possibly August I’m thinking.”
From there, Thompson let some of his concerns about long-term damage be known, citing the hasty return of the former middleweight champion Michael Bisping as a reference point.
“Michael Bisping, in one of his last fights, he stepped out there too soon. He had a brutal fight with Georges St-Pierre and then real quick jumped in against Kelvin Gastelum and just got put away. If you do that, if you step out there too soon… This is your livelihood.
“If you want to do this for years to come, you have to take care of yourself. You can’t condition the brain. You can condition the body, but you can’t condition the brain. You have to take it slow.
“Before this fight with Anthony Pettis, I was bumped back up to No. 3. A good win over Pettis would have shot me into title contention. Maybe one more fight after that. I guess God has other plans. I’m not giving up on the title. I’m 36-years-old and I still have a ton of fight in me… It may take me a few more fights but the way the UFC and the welterweight division is changing, anything can happen. I’m staying positive and I’m working hard.”
Many had theorized that the famed karateka would make the move up to 185lbs given his 1-3-1 record in his last five at 170lbs but for now, it does appear as though Wonderboy is content to fight again as a welterweight.
As for the identity of his opponent, we’re sure more will become clear in time.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena