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UFC 205’s Stephen Thompson Discusses His Title-Fight

Stephen Thompson

Stephen Thompson appeared on a recent edition of “Submission Radio,” discussing his upcoming UFC welterweight title fight with Tyron Woodley, his thoughts on Conor McGregor and more.

If he wanted to be the main event for UFC 205

“There was a while there where I thought I was the main event, but having Conor McGregor and Eddie Alvarez just brings it to a whole new level – which I don’t mind. All I’m focused on is my fight, and so I don’t let the hype really get to me. A lot of fighters do that, they let the fight (get to them) and it kind of worries them a little bit. I’m just focused on the job at hand and that’s winning that title belt. So yeah man, it doesn’t affect me, I don’t think one bit.”

On his favorite McGregor moment from the UFC 205 press conference

“It was pretty funny, man, because at the time, one of the media guys had asked Conor McGregor who would he want to fight or who would give him the hardest time out there, and of course Jeremy Stephens opens up and is like, ‘me man, the 145 pound’ – next thing you know, Conor’s looking around and is like ‘who the ‘F’ is this guy?’ It was like, everybody started cracking up, dude. That was probably one of the most hilarious moments. Another one was, you know, I saw it on social media, I didn’t actually realize it, but when Conor McGregor and Eddie Alvarez started getting into it – we all know what happened last time Conor McGregor got into it with somebody there, I think it was Nate Diaz, they started throwing cans and bottles. So I made sure that (can) was kind of out of his reach so that I wouldn’t get hit if that started happening. So that actually got a little bit of media as well, so I thought that was kind of funny.”

On moving cans and bottles deliberately away from McGregor

“Exactly. I didn’t want to give him the ammo to start throwing it (laughs). Cause I remember last time, he just picked up a bottle and just threw it, man. So I know if he starts throwing, Eddie’s gonna start throwing and then next thing you know, Dana White just reaches over and takes the can away from him. I thought that was hilarious. It was nuts man, it was nuts. The crowd was just pumped up for this, so it fired everyone else up. I know it fired Conor McGregor up, as you saw. But after that whole event, me and Chris we were pumped up, we were fired up. We got our gear and worked out for like two or three hours.”

Thoughts on McGregor fighting for a lightweight title and the logjam it creates at 145

“We really don’t know what’s gonna happen. Dana White’s saying it’s not gonna happen, you know, that if he gets the 155 belt, that the 145 belt is gonna be up for grabs. But obviously Conor’s gonna go out there and he’s gonna stick it to the man a little bit, which gets the crowd going. So we’ll see. I don’t know if Conor McGregor has that much pull, but it’s one of those things where we’ll see if it happens. I don’t think it’s fair for the 145 guys, I mean, because nothing’s happening in that division now. Everybody’s waiting, everybody’s waiting. Conor’s kind of holding it up. We’ve got a bunch of guys in that division who are up to fight for that title and they’re just waiting in the wings. So I think that’s kind of messed up. But as Conor McGregor said, hey I’m gonna have one belt on one shoulder, the other belt on the other shoulder and it’s gonna take an army to take these belts away from me. So we’ll see what happens, but I don’t think it’s fair for the 145 guys.

What he thought when he saw Woodley and his Dad going at it on social media

“I just started cracking up, I was just laughing. Cause my Dad is a proud Dad, but for him (Tyron) to say that I’m fake humble because of that reason – we had no idea we were fighting. And if you saw the tweet, my Dad actually went back six weeks ago and Tyron was saying there was no fight, that he didn’t sign an agreement. So that was a lie right there. He was also saying that the first time he was asked to take the fight, he took it. And I’m like, no it wasn’t. I asked him the very first night on Fox Sports, right after his fight and he told me no. So that’s a lie right there. So my Dad just kind of went on and just kind of let the fans and let Tyron know that we didn’t know. The first time we found out we were fighting, was when he announced it on Fox Sports One. And of course, while they’re going back and forth, I’m out here training. I’m not worried about anything that is said on social media. I’m focused, I’m working hard and that’s all I’m worried about. Whatever’s going on in the media right now, whatever people are saying, that can wait. Right now, it’s just me and Tyron.”

How Stephen found out he was fighting Tyron

“I was actually in the middle of teaching a kid’s class, sitting there, teaching classes – next thing you know, one of our Karate parents jumps up in the air and starts going crazy. I’m like, oh my goodness, what’s going on. Did she win the lottery or something? And she’s like, no, Stephen, you got the title shot. I was like, you’re lying. She ended up showing me and actually the whole class and the parents that he had announced it and everybody started going crazy, man. My heart just lit up, that it is official, that it’s happening. Because there for a while, I wasn’t really sure where it was going. You know, after Demian Maia ended up winning his fight, there was talk about him getting the title shot, and obviously Georges St-Pierre and whoever else Tyron was calling out. So once that was announced and that was official, that did it all for me. So that’s exactly how I found out.”

Thoughts on Tyron saying he respects Thompson as a fighter but not as a man, if Stephen’s feelings towards Tyron changed in any way during the lead up to the fight

“Not at all, not at all. I respect Tyron, and for him to say he doesn’t respect me as a man, I don’t know what I’ve done to him for him not to respect me. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I really didn’t know that (we were fighting). He said that the fight was set like weeks and weeks ago, and it wasn’t. I think he’s just trying to get in my head and it is what it is. I don’t care what he thinks of me. I’m just going to go out there and do my thing.”

If Thompson was surprised Woodley shook his hand at the UFC 205 Press Conference and if he saw anything in Tyron’s eyes during the staredown

“During the social media things that we had going on last week, I think he kind of came out and realized that I actually didn’t know that we were going to be fighting, that I found out that night, and he kind of backtracked a little bit. Yeah, everything was cool during last week, during the media. We were talking to each other, shaking hands. Like I said, it might have been like a scare tactic or something he was trying to do to get in my head. And obviously I let him know real quick it’s not gonna work. And looking in his eyes, I don’t know if there was a little disappointment there that I saw. I figured that he might’ve thought that the fans maybe would’ve had his back. He was a little surprised that they were booing him and I could tell that, and I think that’s in his head a little bit. But you know what, he’s going to be the best Tyron Woodley when he steps in there November 12th and that’s the guy that I want to be prepared for.”

If Woodley is his hardest grappling test or if Thompson saw MacDonald and Hendricks as tougher challenges

“If you look back at his fights, he doesn’t throw a double or go for the takedown very often. Tyron wants to put those hands on you and wants to try and knock you out. I think once he gets a little frustrated, obviously he’s gonna try and do that, just like everybody else that I’ve faced. I think pretty much the hardest opponent in the division is Rory MacDonald. I mean, Rory pretty much schooled Tyron Woodley. But I can’t take this guy lightly and that’s how I go in looking at this fight. A lot of people are like, ‘oh man, you’re gonna crush this dude and Tyron Woodley, he smoked him’ and you know what, I don’t think like that. I’m not the type of guy to do that. Because I want to prepare for the best guy, and that’s Tyron Woodley. That’s the guy standing in front of me. I’m preparing myself as if this is going to be the hardest fight that I have ever faced – and it possibly could be. I want to be ready for five, five-minute rounds.”

If Thompson pictures what it will be like winning the belt at Madison Square Garden at UFC 205

“I do visualise it, man. Every day, every time I step out there on the mat or in the cage, sparring – I visualise it every second, just about. The first thing I’m gonna thank is obviously my lord and saviour. But everybody that helped get me here, which is my coaches, my mum and my dad, the sacrifices they have made, even my sparring partners. You know, the abuse that they have taken for their bodies in training for me to get where I am, man, I’m thanking them first and foremost – and that’s exactly where I’m gonna take my belt. A lot of people take their belts home, I’m taking it to the gym so everybody can enjoy it, not just myself.”

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