In the fourth round of his UFC welterweight title fight against Tyron Woodley last November, Stephen Thompson won. It wasn’t a victory that went on his record or earned him a championship belt. You might say it was more important than that.
“I took a beating in that fourth round, but I learned a lot about myself and I gained a lot more fans after that, just inspiring people,” Thompson said. “And I think that’s awesome.”
It was. It was the moment when you saw that Thompson wasn’t just a flashy knockout artist who was great at being the hammer. As he was rocked, dropped and nearly submitted by Woodley, “Wonderboy” proved that he could survive being the nail and still come out of his corner for the fifth and final round and win it on all three judges’ scorecards.
He wouldn’t win the fight, but neither did Woodley, with the final draw verdict prompting an immediate rematch that takes place this Saturday in Las Vegas. But the final result wasn’t the most important part of that UFC 205 bout — it was the journey to get there.
“You’re being pushed to your limits, and where most people would give up, you’re finishing on top and you’re conquering that fear that everybody has or getting tired or getting knocked out or almost getting choked out,” Thompson said. “When you conquer that, it’s one of the best feelings ever.”
If Thompson was known as one of the most affable and glass half-full fighters in the UFC before Nov. 12, that night didn’t change anything in the slightest. If anything, he’s embracing life in the octagon even more heading into the UFC 209 main event.
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