Johny Hendricks doesn't lose often or easy. The former welterweight champion has been defeated only three times, two of which were split decisions. Both of those bouts were title contests.
That makes Stephen Thompson's first-round TKO stoppage victory over Hendricks at UFC Fight Night 82 on Saturday all the more impressive.
Thompson, however, had his moment early where Hendricks was able to press the striker against the fence and nearly score a takedown. For his part, though, 'Wonderboy' kept his composure, worked his way to his feet and was able to create separation. Hendricks never got close with the takedown again.
"He just caught me up against the cage," Thompson told the media at the event's post-fight press conference. "Once I was able to get out, I felt at home. I felt comfortable. Johny, he's strong, man. He's a strong dude. I know if I could stuff that takedown and get back to the center, I could put him away. That's exactly what we worked on and that's exactly what I did."
As Thompson told it, he and his team knew Hendricks was going to make a wrestling challenge central to his efforts. It's where Hendricks is the strongest and Thompson the weakest. Sure, the former champion has a big punch, but it's the mixing of the wrestling that truly sets his offense apart.
Despite knowing that, however, Thompson said he was undeterred.
"I had that attitude going into the first round. I know what I'm capable of," he confessed. "Just the confidence coming in from my camp. I had all the confidence in the world. I knew I could put him away. I just had to find a way to do it. Keep him at the end of my hands and feet. I knew he was going to look for the takedown. Just keep the fight standing up and I knew it was going to happen."
As for what's next, no one is quite sure. UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler recently fought Carlos Condit to a very close decision victory. No other contender has been promised the next fight and the queue to face Lawler is full. In Thompson's mind, however, there's only one choice for who should be next to earn a title shot at 170 pounds.
"Defeating Johny Hendricks, he's a tough guy, no. 2-ranked guy, former welterweight champion. I'm asking for the title, man," he declared. "I know there's a lot of guys in line, but I think after that performance, I deserve it."