At last November’s UFC 205, reigning welterweight champion Tyron Woodley and top-ranked contender Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson treated fight fans to an entertaining affair that resulted in a draw and led to the controversial rematch in which Woodley retained his title with a majority decision victory that did neither fighter–nor the fans, any favors at UFC 209.
Fortunately, now that UFC 209’s main event misfire is just an overpriced memory we can finally get back to the business of speculation, and while Woodley’s immediate future is undoubtedly brighter than it should be, Thompson is the one who’s now facing a pivotal point in his UFC career.
Although rattled by a loss that’s left him searching for answers, Thompson kept things classy less than 24 hours after falling to Woodley by congratulating the champion and welcoming his next challenge in a statement issued to Fox Sports.
“Last night was not the outcome I wanted,” read Thompson’s statement. “I wanted that title more than anything, but it didn’t go my way. Tyron is a great fighter, a deserving champion and a worthy opponent.”
“I welcome the next challenge with open arms and a full heart.”
For what it’s worth, UFC president Dana White was just one of many who felt that Thompson actually won the welterweight rematch with Woodley, and that will mean something when the UFC chooses his next opponent—especially after fighting such a closely-contested bout against Woodley last November.
With the top of the welterweight division anything but stable and a variety of qualified contenders all looking to land a title shot, Thompson’s time in the Octagon will remain valuable. But under the circumstances, Thompson might want to consider an opponent other than his most obvious options.
Surprisingly, Woodley is the only current top-five opponent on Thompson’s resume, and that leaves the likes of former welterweight champ Robbie Lawler, veteran contender Demian Maia, former interim 170-pound champion Carlos Condit and fifth-ranked Neil Magny as possibilities for “Wonderboy’s” next bout. However, with Maia slated to face sixth-ranked Jorge Masvidal in May, and Condit mulling retirement, don’t be surprised if the UFC wants Thompson to tangle with either Lawler or Magny at some point very soon.
Thompson doesn’t necessarily need to defeat one of the division’s top contenders in order to stop the first win-less streak he’s experienced since joining the UFC. But he does need to fight an aggressive striker capable of constantly pushing the action if he’s going to refocus following a pair of tough outings and reclaim his status as one of the sport’s most crowd-pleasing contenders, and welterweight newcomer Donald Cerrone is the perfect opponent.
Currently listed as the UFC’s eighth-ranked welterweight contender, Cerrone suffered a surprising, knockout-loss to Masvidal in January after earning victories in each of his first four fights at 170-pounds. While Cerrone might not be fully committed to his new surroundings after tearing through the lightweight division with eight straight wins in between consecutive losses to former 155-pound champ Rafael dos Anjos, a date with Thompson would be a huge opportunity for “The Cowboy” to bounce back while giving the fans exactly the type of fight he’s always been known for.
In the interest of the division’s forever shifting power structure, the UFC will probably try to steer Thompson towards a more established welterweight contender before considering Cerrone.
But Thompson-Cerrone would not only give both men a shot at instant redemption and the UFC a match-up worthy of main event status, it would give us Octagon addicts the chance to see a dream meeting between two of the sport’s most dynamic strikers and a pair of welterweight contenders who’ve always put fight fans first.
Conor McGregor Charged with Assault for Dublin Incident
Former UFC two-division champion Conor McGregor has been charged with assault for punching a man in a bar in Dublin, Ireland back in April, that carries a maximum prison term of six months if convicted, a fine of $1,646, or both, according to the Independent.
McGregor’s spokesperson Karen Kessler confirmed that McGregor was formally served with a summons and is due in a Dublin court on October 11th, in a conversation with ESPN’s Ariel Helwani.
McGregor expressed remorse for the incident back in August, during an interview with ESPN.
“I was in the wrong,” McGregor said, at the time. “That man deserved to enjoy his time in the pub without having it end the way it did. … I tried to make amends, and I made amends back then. But it doesn’t matter. I was in the wrong. I must come here before you and take accountability and take responsibility. I owe it to the people that have been supporting me. I owe it to my mother, my father, my family. I owe it to the people who trained me in martial arts. That’s not who I am. That’s not the reason why I got into martial arts or studying combat sports. The reason I got into it was to defend against that type of scenario.”
“I must get my head screwed on and just get back in the game and fight for redemption, retribution, respect — the things that made me the man I am,” McGregor continued. “And that’s what I will do.”
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UFC’s Stipe Miocic Likely Out for Year
UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic is considered to be “highly unlikely” to compete again for the remainder of 2019 after the fighter suffered an eye injury during his fight with Daniel Cormier back in August, Miocic’s agent said, according to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto.
Miocic (19-3) knocked out Cormier to reclaim the heavyweight title during the fourth round of their rematch at UFC 241, and there had been interest in a 3rd fight between Cormier and Miocic, potentially taking place at UFC 245 on December 14th in Las Vegas, however Miocic says that he is still recovering from a procedure that was done on his retina.
“I’ll be ready to fight when I can see out of both eyes again,” Miocic said in a statement to ESPN. “I can’t wait to defend my belt.”
According to Miocic’s agent, Jim Walter, the eye injury occurred when Cormier accidentally poked Miocic in the eye during the fight at UFC 241.
Miocic had complained of eye pokes during both of his fights against Cormier.
“Mr. Miocic sustained a major retina injury from multiple eye pokes during his bout at UFC 241,” said Walter, of Kaulig Sports and Entertainment. “Our client’s health and safety is our top priority. We are excited for him to return to action when he is healthy to compete in his seventh consecutive world title fight.”
Cormier, 40, recently stated his desire to put off retirement to fight Miocic a third time.
“I’m gonna fight this guy again,” Cormier said during an appearance on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show earlier this week. “My intention is to fight him in the right way. … It has to be against Stipe, no one else matters.”
Dana White: BJ Penn Won’t Fight in UFC Again
UFC president Dana White says that BJ Penn won’t be fighting in the UFC again after a pair of videos surfaced online showing Penn fighting in the streets while in Hawaii.
Penn (16-14-2), 40, was expected to fight Nik Lentz before the end of the year, but White says that plans to make that fight happen are now off following the videos going viral.
“He won’t fight again, that’s it,” White said, according to Brett Okamoto. “That’s a wrap. It’s not even that this was the last straw. I didn’t love him continuing to fight anyway, but with the relationship that he and I have — he gets me on the phone, begging me for another fight. It’s hard to turn him down.
“After what I saw in that video, BJ needs to, you know, he needs to focus on his personal life before he thinks about fighting.”
Penn, who will not face any charges for the incidents, and his representatives have since said he was trying to diffuse the situation and ultimately acted in self-defense.
“I don’t want to sit here and pick BJ Penn apart,” White said. “I think we all know what BJ Penn needs to do and hopefully BJ Penn knows what BJ Penn needs to do. What I saw in that video was sad and I love the kid. I hope he gets his life together. If BJ Penn needs me, all he has to do is pick up the phone and ask.”
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