Stephen Thompson’s ‘Wonderbag’ On Conor McGregor, Nate Diaz
Former UFC title challenger Stephen Thompson opens up his 'Wonderbag' on an array of subjects including Conor McGregor.
Former UFC title challenger Stephen Thompson has a future post-fighting in mixed martial arts.
Thompson showed his skills once again while appearing on “Submission Radio,” touching on a number of subjects including Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz.
As for his immediate future, “Wonderboy” will meet Gilbert Burns at UFC 264. He is hopeful that a victory moves him one step closer to competing for the welterweight title once again, which is currently held by Kamaru Usman.
“I know that’s out there. I know that a good win over Gilbert Burns will put me up there with those guys. And like you said, I mean, Usman, everybody wants me to fight him cause I’m the only guy that hasn’t fought him in the top five. So, he’s fighting guys multiple times now,” Thompson said. “I think I would be a bad match-up for him. Yes, he’s a phenomenal wrestler and he’s got cardio for days, and now he’s knocking out one of the best strikers in the division, Jorge Masvidal. So, his striking is improved. And that’s what makes this fight so fun for me, is knowing that I’m fighting just the best version of Kamaru Usman. Obviously, I gotta get past Gilbert Burns. Not looking past him at all. But yeah, I know that’s there, I know that’s at the top of the list. But I got one guy that I’m focused on right now, and that’s in three weeks, Gilbert Burns, baby!”
Check out more from the interview below:
On Leon Edwards’ win Nate Diaz
“I thought it was a good fight. It definitely showed… I mean, it was a classic fight of Nate Diaz. You know, just the durability of that guy is just ridiculous. He took some crazy low calf kicks in the second, third, pretty much throughout the fight, and then almost finishes the guy in the fifth round. Now, that’s classic Nate, man. Classic Nate. I mean, it was a really good fight. But for some reason, Edwards schooled him, I feel he schooled him, but I feel like he could have finished him anytime he wanted. And I was always wondering, why is he not finishing this guy? It can’t be the fact that he’s like, you know, ‘I’m gonna try and go all five rounds’, cause that’s not really going through your head. You just want to get the fight over with, knock this guy out. But I felt like he was holding back. I felt like he could go out there and finish Nate Diaz a lot earlier in the fight.”
“I don’t think he hurt him as bad as he thought, because you figure Nate Diaz would go out there and finish him as soon as you see him wobble, but he didn’t.”
Why Nate Diaz should go back down to lightweight
“I thought he did better work at lightweight, for sure. I mean, everybody he’s fought at welterweight… I mean, the only person that I think he beat was Conor McGregor at 170. But Conor’s not a natural 170 guy. I don’t know if there’s any other 170 that he’s fought and beat, but I think he should go back down to lightweight for sure. I think he should go back down to 155. I think he’s better that way. His body is built for it, he’s taller, he’s longer than everybody in that division. So, go back to 155, man. I think you would do better off there, for sure.”
On Nate’s stock rising the most after the Edwards fight
“Because he had that last little flurry in the fifth round, almost knocking him out, almost putting him away, I think he won more fans over that than Leon Edwards. Yeah, Leon Edwards came out with a win and extended his streak like you said, but it was Nate, Nate is the one that was the exciting one out there. I think he was the one showboating, he was the one making it happen. Even though Leon Edwards was putting in the work, was beating him up, it was the shenanigans that Nate Diaz puts out there that makes him so exciting. So, I say Nate.”
On possibly getting a chance to fight Usman with a good win at UFC 264
“I know that’s out there. I know that a good win over Gilbert Burns will put me up there with those guys. And like you said, I mean, Usman, everybody wants me to fight him cause I’m the only guy that hasn’t fought him in the top five. So, he’s fighting guys multiple times now.”
“I think I would be a bad match-up for him. Yes, he’s a phenomenal wrestler and he’s got cardio for days, and now he’s knocking out one of the best strikers in the division, Jorge Masvidal. So, his striking is improved. And that’s what makes this fight so fun for me, is knowing that I’m fighting just the best version of Kamaru Usman. Obviously, I gotta get past Gilbert Burns. Not looking past him at all. But yeah, I know that’s there, I know that’s at the top of the list. But I got one guy that I’m focused on right now, and that’s in three weeks, Gilbert Burns, baby!”
If Burns will look to strike or use his grappling in their fight
“Obviously, I think his biggest attribute is Jiu Jitsu and wrestling. So, obviously that’s something that I’ve been working on every day. But I think he wants to shoot. He may act like he’s shooting to set up his hands. I know those tricks. They like to shoot. I’ve faced guys like maybe not in the highest level of Jiu Jitsu, but good wrestlers do the same thing. They’ll fake the shot, come up with the big power hand or left hook. That could be in his game plan. But I feel like he’s gonna want to get the fight to the ground. And the thing is, almost everybody that I fight, at some point they want to try and make that happen. So, it’s pretty much trying to prepare for every fight the same way. And it kind of makes it fairly easy for me. But I do believe he’s going to be shooting for the legs, for sure.”
“I think the person that has to do more changing of the fighters is definitely Conor. I mean, Dustin Poirier has been fighting pretty much the same way for the longest time. He’s got great boxing, good timing, he’s tough as nails, he likes to sit in the pocket and he’s intelligent. I think he [Conor] kind of lost something in his last fight. I think it was all the boxing that he was doing. He doesn’t have that movement anymore that you normally saw. Like when he fought Jose Aldo. It was the movement that won him that fight. And he was kind of standing there in front of Dustin Poirier and he took a lot of low calf kicks, and that’s what settled it, sealed the deal. So, he’s got to get back into moving like a Karate guy. He’s got to get back into getting on his bike, using that in and out movement, switching sides, playing that game, if he’s going to go out there and beat him again. Cause he can draw out Dustin Poirier’s strikes with his movement. And him being such a good counter puncher, can counter off of that. So out of the two, Conor’s got to get back to that. So, don’t know how hard that is and how long he’s been doing the boxing stuff, but he’s got to get out of that and get back to his movement. If he can do that, Conor can win.”
How hard it is making the adjustments needed for Conor with the fight being back-to-back
“For a lifelong martial artist such as Conor McGregor, I think it should be fairly easy for him. I think he can get back to that fairly easy. And as long as he’s been doing that directly after the fight. After his last fight he should have gone back to the gym and started working on it. I mean, he knew then they’re going to have a rematch. He’s won one, Poirier has won one. It’s bound to happen. It’s meant to be, have a third fight. So, hopefully he’s doing that and hopefully he’s got good coaches to get him back, making him do that movement. So, I don’t think it should be that hard for him.”