Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson opens up on his close bond with father and coach


Longtime MMA fans will already know that Stephen Thompson has a regular presence in his corner for each and every one of his fights – his father.

Ray Thompson was a professional kickboxer in his younger days and runs the Upstate Karate gym in South Carolina, where Stephen (14-4-1 MMA, 9-4-1 UFC) also works and trains.

Ray was a driving force in Stephen’s martial arts training and subsequent MMA career, and, speaking to reporters backstage at UFC 238, ‘Wonderboy’ paid tribute to his father as he looked forward to Father’s Day.

“Man, my dad is everything to me. I don’t know what I’m gonna do when that time comes,” he said. “I know a lot of people who don’t spend their time with their dad – my dad was one of them.

“With (my) grandfather – he died when I was very young – I remember my dad telling me at a young age that his dad would always say, ‘Hey, you need to hang out with your dad – I’m not going be around long enough.’

“Pops didn’t take him seriously and the next thing you know, he ended up dying in a car accident and that’s something he regrets.”

“Wonderboy” said he doesn’t want to live with similar regrets, which is one of the reasons why he and his father seem so inseparable.

“I like to consider myself a very observant person and try to learn from that and try to spend as much time with my dad as possible,” he said. “He’s a very wise dude, and I wouldn’t be the man I am if it wasn’t for him.”

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Stream or download MMA Junkie Radio #2941 with Alexa Grasso, Montana De La Rosa, Chris Curtis, Eric Albarracin

Stream or download Friday’s episode of MMA Junkie Radio with guests Alexa Grasso, Montana De La Rosa, Chris Curtis, Eric Albarracin.

Grasso discussed her memorable victory over Karolina Kowalkiewicz an what comes next; trainer Albarracin talks about how Henry Cejudo implemented his game plan at UFC 238 and defeated Marlon Moraes to become champ-champ;  De La Rosa discussed her upcoming bout against Andre Lee; and PFL competitor Curtis co-hosted the show in-studio.

Stream or download the entire episode over at AudioBoom.com, or watch a replay in the video above.

UFC 238 in tweets

UFC 238 is in the books and it was a fantastic night of action in Chicago. Kicking off the main card was a pair of heavyweights. After a promising start in the UFC, Tai Tuivasa was looking to get back into the win column against Blagoy Ivanov. The Bulgarian was coming off a win over Ben Rothwell in March and was looking to cement himself in the division’s top 15. After an action packed 15 minutes and both fighters hurting each other, it was Blagoy Ivanov who got the nod on the judges scorecards via unanimous decision to move to 2-1 in the UFC. Next up was a pivotal bantamweight bout between Jimmie Rivera and the streaking Petr Yan. Rivera was coming off a decision loss to Aljamain Sterling in February while Yan extended his perfect record in the UFC Octagon to 4-0 with a win over John Dodson in February. It was Yan who prevailed via a unanimous decision and he has put himself one fight away from a shot at the 135lbs title.

The people’s main event  was up next as fan favourite’s Tony Ferguson and Donald Cerrone squared off in a massive lightweight bout. The winner would all but guarantee a title shot. Tony was coming off a TKO win against Anthony Pettis in Ocotber while Cowboy was making his quickest turn around in his career after beating Al Iaquinta back in May. As expected, this was a war for as long as it lasted. At the end of the second round Ferguson landed a shot clearly after the bell which didn’t go down well with the crowd in Chicago. As Cowboy emerged from the stool for the start of the 3rd round, he blew his nose and with that his eye closed shut. The Doctor was called in and the fight was called a TKO win for Ferguson. He extend his winning streak to 12 since 2013.

In the co-main event, the women’s flyweight title was on the line as champion Valentina Shevchenko was looking to defend her title for the first time against Jessica Eye. Shevchenko captured the title in December 2018 against Joanna Jędrzejczyk and Jessica Eye made it 3-0 since moving down to flyweight after beating Katlyn Chookagian last year. Shevchenko showed why she was a -1500 favourite in this fight as she landed a brutal head kick at the start of the 2nd round which knocked out Eye instantly.

In the main event of the evening, Henry Cejudo was moving up in weight to challenge Marlon Moraes for the vacant bantamweight championship. Both fighters were on a combined 8 fight win streak with Cejudo starching former bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw in under 40 seconds. Moraes on the other hand, is coming off 4 wins in a row and in February got his revenge against Raphael Assunção. Moraes dominated the first round eating up the leg of the Olympic Champion. As the fight went on, Cejudo started to take over and eventually got the fight to the ground and finished Moraes via TKO in round 3 to become the fourth double champion in the UFC.

Check out their fellow pro’s reaction to an action packed night of fights in Chicago.

Henry Cejudo vs Marlon Moraes 

Valentina Shevchenko vs Jessica Eye

Tony Ferguson vs Donald Cerrone

Petr Yan vs Jimmie Rivera

Blagoy Ivanov vs Tai Tuivasa

Assessing the Future of Henry Cejudo Following UFC 238

Over the course of the last 10 months, Henry Cejudo has put together quite an impressive run of success. Last August, he picked up a closely fought split-decision victory over Demetrious Johnson to become the UFC flyweight champion. Five months later, he defended his 125-pound title with a 32-second knockout victory over then-bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw.

And now most recently, Cejudo scored a highly impressive stoppage victory Marlon Moraes this past weekend at UFC 238 to win the promotion’s vacant 135-pound belt. With the win, Cejudo became only the fourth fighter in promotional history to simultaneously hold two titles in two different weight classes.

In his post-fight interview following the win over Moraes, Cejudo called out big names such as Urijah Faber, Dominick Cruz, and Cody Garbrandt. And while it makes sense that he would be targeting the most lucrative fights, those options appear to be quite unrealistic. With a belt now on each shoulder, however, Cejudo does indeed have more realistic options awaiting him.

Options at Flyweight

Heading into UFC 238, some felt that if Henry Cejudo added the bantamweight title to his collection, the end of the road could be near for the flyweight division. After all, it has seemed as if that division has been on its last legs for about a year or so now.

After the event, however, UFC President Dana White appeared to have dismissed that idea, implying that the division may, in fact, remain around. It is, of course, important to remember that anything can happen and that anything can change in this sport.

Regardless, Cejudo defending his 125-pound belt next seems to be a realistic option as of now. And while the division is incredibly thin at the moment, there is a challenger that makes sense: the winner of Joseph Benavidez vs. Jussier Formiga.

Benavidez, a two-time title challenger, has long been one of the division’s best, but he could never get by Johnson. He does, however, own a win over Cejudo. After coaching against each other on The Ultimate Fighter and stirring up a bit of a rivalry, the two met in December 2016 when Benavidez scored a split-decision victory.

When you take into account that Benavidez owns a win over the champion in addition to the fact that he’s won eight of his last nine fights, a win over Formiga would certainly make him deserving of a shot at gold.

And with Formiga, the Brazilian has also been a longtime contender at flyweight, though he’s never received a title shot. Now a winner of four straight, a win over Benavidez would also make him a logical next contender to the flyweight title of Henry Cejudo.

Bantamweight Contenders

Of course, however, it’s quite possible that Cejudo’s next bout doesn’t take place at flyweight given that he’s now the proud owner of two titles. And if that’s the case, the dual-champion has options at 135 pounds as well. The options he mentioned, however, shouldn’t be in the cards.

Faber, for example, retired after a victory over Brad Pickett in 2016. He’ll be returning next month against Ricky Simon, but even with a win, wouldn’t be deserving of a title shot at this moment. Cruz, meanwhile, is coming off of a loss and hasn’t competed since 2016. And finally, Garbrandt is riding a three-fight losing streak with all three of those losses coming via stoppage.

Simply put, the UFC shouldn’t consider any of those three men for Cejudo to make his first title defense against at bantamweight. The promotion should, however, consider granting the opportunity to the division’s No. 2-ranked contender Aljamain Sterling.

The Long Island native known as the “Funkmaster” is currently riding a four-fight winning streak and most recently competed at UFC 238 alongside Cejudo. That string of victories includes wins over Brett Johns, Cody Stamann, Jimmie Rivera and Pedro Munhoz.

Few in the division are more deserving of a title shot than the 29-year-old Sterling. And, the timing would likely work out perfectly with him and Cejudo to square off later this year.

If for some reason, Sterling isn’t next, rising contender Petr Yan has been making waves at bantamweight as well. The 26-year-old, who also competed at UFC 238, holds a 13-1 professional record and is 5-0 in the UFC thus far. Yan is also a former ACB (Now ACA) champion. He shouldn’t be too far off from a shot at gold, though it’d be difficult to see him jumping Sterling at this moment.

Reality

In today’s mixed martial arts landscape, rankings ultimately seem to mean very little. “Money fights” have reigned supreme and we’ve seen many champions chase the biggest and most lucrative fights instead of chasing the fights with the most deserving contenders.

Conor McGregor, for example, did this when he held two UFC divisions hostage to take on Floyd Mayweather in a boxing match in 2017. Even heavyweight titleholder Daniel Cormier is a bit guilty of this, as he’s been chasing a fight with Brock Lesnar, who hasn’t technically won a fight since 2011.

Point is; when fighters get to the top of the mountain, they tend to set their sights on cashing out. And we’ve already seen this a bit with Cejudo. With the names that he called out after UFC 238. Also the fact that he expressed his interest in chasing a title at 145 pounds as well, it’s clear that he wants the fights that will line his pockets the most.

With that being said, it’s quite possible that he doesn’t take on any of the aforementioned contenders in his next bout. But, if he has an interest in defending one of his titles against a fighter who is actually deserving, he has good options at either weight.

The post Assessing the Future of Henry Cejudo Following UFC 238 appeared first on MMASucka.com.

Go behind the scenes with the champ-champ and a stone cold killer at UFC 238 (video)

UFC 238 thrill and agony

(Courtesy of UFC)

UFC 238: Cejudo vs. Moraes was a top heavy fight card that delivered from the top all the way down the line. In a night of emotional extremes, flyweight champion Henry Cejudo won his second UFC belt by making a come-from-behind effort against Marlon Moraes. 

In the UFC 238 co-main event, Valentina Shevchenko once again showed the poise of a stone cold assassin, as she laid Jessica Eye out cold in the opening moments of their fight. It was the first defense of her title, but one that should make future challengers shudder.

Tony Ferguson returned to the Octagon following a stint of outside the cage troubles, but didn’t skip a beat, as he used his sharp-shooting skills to pick apart Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, whose night was over after his right eye swelled up like a balloon.

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Experience all of the thrill and the agony from UFC 238: Cejudo vs Moraes with this sneak peek of the UFC FIGHT PASS exclusive series.

UFC 238 ‘Thrill and Agony’: Daniel Cormier couldn’t bear to watch Valentina Shevchenko’s destruction

Once again, the UFC takes us behind the scenes of its latest pay-per-view – this time at UFC 238 in Chicago.

UFC 238 took place this past Saturday at United Center in Chiago. The main card aired on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and ESPN+.

In the UFC 236 “Thrill and Agony” preview, we get a behind-the-scenes look at the night’s featured action, including Henry Cejudo (15-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) claiming his second UFC title with a stunning win over Marlon Moraes (22-6-1 MMA, 4-2 UFC), Valentina Shevchenko (17-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) scoring a brutal knockout of Jessica Eye (14-7 MMA, 4-6 UFC) and Donald Cerrone (36-12 MMA, 23-9 UFC)seeing his night cut short by the cageside doctors, giving Tony Ferguson (25-3 MMA, 15-1 UFC) a bittersweet TKO win.

Check out the full clip above to see the outpouring of emotions on all sides following the night’s featured action, including UFC champ Daniel Cormier finding it incredibly difficult to watch the aftermath of Shevchenko’s vicious finish.

The video is a preview of “Thrill and Agony.” The full episode is available on UFC Fight Pass for subscribers.

For complete coverage of UFC 236, check out the UFC Events section of the site.