UFC Fight Night 130 marks an interesting main event as an established veteran in #1 ranked welterweight contender and two time title challenger Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson (14-2-1 MMA, 9-2-1 UFC) takes on a young prospect in #8 ranked Darren Till (16-0-1 MMA, 4-0-1 UFC)
After failing to capture his hands on the title not once but twice, ‘Wonderboy’ is well aware of the fact that he has to win in a dominating fashion. In his last fight Till faced a stern test in Jorge Masvidal at UFC 217 in November 2017. Thompson won the fight via unanimous decision but he has to end the streak of Till. Oddly before November Till didn’t even knew who Darren Till was.
“To be honest with you, I had no idea who Darren Till was until somebody had mentioned him,” Thompson told FanSided MMA. “Going into my Masvidal fight, we were doing media and somebody asked me, ‘Hey, would you like to fight Darren Till…blah blah blah?’ And I remember saying, ‘Yeah, of course! I’m a fighter, I’ll take on anybody.’ Afterward I was asking people, ‘Who is this guy?’ So I went back and watched the fight with Cerrone and, listen, he is a great striker. By no means am I taking this guy lightly. But I had beaten the guy who had knocked out Cerrone before Till. I just beat him. It was a unanimous decision, but I think I could’ve knocked him out if I hadn’t broken my thumbs in the second round.
In spite of being #1 ranked contender, Thompson didn’t get a shot at the recent welterweight interim title booking between former lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos and Colby Covington. Meanwhile Wonderboy took some time off.
One of the reasons was, of course, my thumbs, and the other reason was I wanted to see where the welterweight division was going,” Thompson said. “Tyron just had his shoulder surgery and there were rumors of the UFC introducing an interim title, and I wanted to see if I was on the top of that list. I wanted to see where I was since I am the No.1 contender. Weeks went by, months went by and they made the decision to put RDA against Colby Covington for the interim title. I was just sitting there. So I thought about it and realized that I want to stay active, I want to test myself against these guys that are flying up the division and that’s what happened.”
However Wonderboy is definitely not giving up another title shot at the welterweight strap.
That’s exactly what I’m gonna go out there and do,” Thompson explained. “I fought Woodley twice and a lot of people are sleeping on that first fight. We had a battle, it won ‘Fight of the Night’ (at UFC 205) and it was even up for ‘Fight of the Year’. Everybody thinks about the last fight (at UFC 209) and the fans weren’t happy with it. I have to go out there and put on a show in Liverpool and it’s not only to get the win, it’s how I win that could get me that third shot. Plus, we need to see what happens with that RDA and Colby Covington fight, and who will win between the winner of that when they fight Tyron.
“I think if Tyron wins, I may have to get another win. But if Tyron loses, I think the shot will be mine. So I’m putting myself out there, but Darren Till is definitely someone I am not going to sleep on. I’m thinking about the last fight Khabib had because he was scheduled to face Tony Ferguson, and could’ve fought some of the top guys in the division, but that didn’t happen. He ended up fighting someone ranked lower in the division. That guy gave him one of the toughest fights he had in a while. People have seen Till’s fight with Cerrone and he could be freakin’ amazing, right? It’s my job to put a stop to that and prove that I am here to stay.”
“Darren Till is definitely making his name in the division,” Thompson said. “He pushed for it, so hats off to him for sticking with it, and he made it happen. Bisping looks to be on his way out so they don’t really have a ton of stars to push from Europe and the UK, but Darren Till looks to be that guy right now — a good striker, he’s got the gift of gab, a personality. He’s the guy that’s standing in front of me, standing in front of that title that I’m not giving up on and it is what it is. We’re going to go out there and do work. We’re going to put on a show.”