For weeks, the UFC has attempted to set up a rematch between Stephen Thompson and UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley for March 4 at UFC 209 to no avail.
Thompson and Woodley have unfinished business dating back to their first meeting at UFC 205, which ended with Woodley retaining his belt with a razor-thin majority draw. Woodley has since called out a litany of foes for his next title defense, a list that has included seemingly everyone but Thompson. And an exasperated “Wonderboy” finally aired his frustration on Monday.
“I was given a contract weeks ago and it’s been signed for weeks,” Thompson said on The MMA Hour. “So we’re just waiting on his signature, waiting for him to man up and do what everybody knows he should do and he’s not doing it. And it’s very disappointing. To me, he’s just not acting like a champion. It was a draw. He even said that we have unfinished business, but it seems like he’s just calling out everybody else but me.
“Enough is enough. It just really frustrates me to see a champion, or somebody say their a champion, acting the way that he’s acting. Going out of that last fight with a draw, still having the belt around his waist, (and) saying that he won the fight? It’s almost like he’s happy with a participation trophy. And that’s not, to me, how a champion should act.”
While the situation between Woodley and Thompson has largely played out behind the scenes, tensions finally bubbled over into the public arena this past weekend, as Thompson posted a photo of his signed bout agreement on Twitter with a note to Woodley that simply read: “Waiting on you.”
Thompson said the post was made out of frustration after watching Woodley repeatedly push for a catchweight fight with UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping rather than accepting the fight actually being offered to him by UFC matchmakers for UFC 209. Thompson also admitted that he was “baffled” by the way Woodley has handled the situation in the aftermath of UFC 205, and that the only conclusion he could draw is that Woodley is scared of what will happen if the two run things back.
“That’s exactly what it looks like, man. I really do feel that,” Thompson said. “He’s called out Georges St-Pierre, Nick Diaz, Demian Maia. He’s even gone to the point where he wanted to go up a weight class to fight Bisping. It’s like the bully in the room and he’s looking for everybody else who he probably knows aren’t going to fight him. The fans don’t want to see it. The UFC doesn’t want to see it. It just doesn’t make sense. I mean, calling out Nick Diaz, who hasn’t fought in years? And he’s just kinda turning his back, turning his head to the one guy who will fight him and I think should fight him, and that’s me.”
Thompson noted that what he takes most umbrage with is the idea that Woodley is treating their draw as if he won the fight. It’s a talking point that Woodley has reiterated several times over recent weeks, including in the back-and-forth that resulted from Thompson’s Twitter post. But as a competitor, Thompson has trouble understanding how Woodley could actually feel satisfied with a result that left so many questions unanswered.
“A draw is a draw. I mean, it’s like the fight didn’t even happen,” Thompson said. “It was a tie, and what baffles me is that he’s okay with that. You’re really not defending the title. It was a tie. So, you have to go for round two to determine who the true winner is, who the winner of that and the rightful owner of that belt is. And that’s what just makes me mad. I fight for the honor and the glory, and that’s just not being very honorable to me and a true champion. If it was me on the other end, before I even stepped out of the cage, I’d be asking for a rematch because there was no winner.
“That’s how I look at it, man,” Thompson continued. “If you’re champion, if you are the champion, prove it. Fight the number-one contender. Don’t be picking and choosing and trying to pick everybody else but the rightful guy. And he’s even said that we have unfinished business, I think it was right after the fight. But yeah man, it’s just disappointing and I think a lot of the fans are seeing that, and it just doesn’t look good for him.”
Ultimately, Thompson said he is already training under the assumption that he and Woodley are scheduled to meet again on March 4 at UFC 209. And considering the logjam that is developing at the top of the welterweight division with Demian Maia and the rest of the 170-pound contenders, Thompson couldn’t help but scoff at Woodley’s assertion that Thompson was acting “entitled” while the division’s own champion was pushing so hard to fight outside of the weight class.
“When I read that, I just started laughing, because there’s not an entitled bone in my body and I posted that up last night,” Thompson said. “The contract was given to me. I didn’t beg for it. I didn’t go to the UFC like, ‘gimme this contract, I want this fight, blah blah blah.’ No, they sent me the contract. The UFC wants to see this fight happen and I just signed it.
“I know that he’s got a bout agreement sitting there in his home. He’s probably looking at it right now. He just needs to man up and sign it. Just sign it and let’s determine who the real champion is. And I think he knows, which is why he’s not signing it.”