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Stephen Thompson ‘very disappointed’ in rematch with Tyron Woodley, but is moving on

It would be easy for Stephen Thompson to lash out at the critics who panned his performance in his UFC 209 rematch loss to UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley.

After all, it wasn’t the fans or media who had a killer like Woodley starting at them from the other side of the Octagon.

“It’s little different when you’re out there, especially when you’re fighting a guy as powerful as Tyron Woodley,” Thompson said on a recent edition of The MMA Hour. “He can knock me into next week with one punch, and if he wanted to, he can take you down and hold you there. He’s got that kind of power, so you have to be fairly smart getting out there with someone like that.”

But it’s also not in Thompson’s nature to be bitter. So while he knows the score like only those who step into the Octagon can claim, he’s also not going to go too hard after people who criticized his performance in his majority-decision loss.

“You know, we’re in the entertainment business, and from the audience standpoint, it was a fairly slow fight,” Woodley said of the matchup in Las Vegas. “And they’re there to see people get knocked out.”

Thompson believes expectations were set to a high level based on their exciting first match-up, a majority draw which took Fight of the Night honors on a loaded card at Madison Square Garden for UFC 205. But what happened instead was that a pair of high-level fighters gleaned almost too much information on one another based on the first bout.

“I think they’re gauging it on what the first fight was like,” Thompson said. “It was pretty crazy. But then again, me and Tyron both learned a lot from each other, from the fight. So we both learned a lot about what to do and what not to do. For me it was, this guys going to be a little more aggressive going into this fight, I think he even said he was going to be more aggressive, so for him to commit and me counter off him, I didn’t expect him to back up off me pretty much the entire time.”

Meanwhile, Thompson admits Woodley’s approach during the second fight got into his head a little bit, which led to the bout becoming a stalemate which the crowd at T-Mobile Arena didn’t love.

“Since he was backing off me, I knew he was waiting for me to come in so I would run into his right hand, he ended up knocking me out twice in the first fight doing that,” Thompson said. “So, it was kind of like, it was very slow, that fight, but, then again, there was a reason for that, you know? There were times in there were I could have pressed it more going back and watching it, but it’s different going back and watching and saying ‘I should have done that, I should have done this.’ But when you’re out there, it’s completely different, you know?”

Thompson showed up for the post-fight press conference following the loss and put on a brave face in public. But while he has a decent poker face, he admits he was more disappointed than he let on. After all, both fights were razor-tight decisions, and with a judge here or there scoring another round in his favor in either fight, Thompson would be champ today.

“I was very disappointed,” Thompson said. “I’m fairly good at hiding it, but then again I’ve got a great support system around me, my family, and win or lose, when I go home my family is still going to love me, my students are still going to love me, and you know we’ll work our way back up. I’ve always been a very positive guy and move forward from things. You can’t look back or dwell on things.

Thompson, whose career record stands at 13-2-1 after the loss, recently underwent a surgical procedure to repair an injury to his MCL and meniscus and hopes to be back at it within four weeks.

In the meantime, after thinking about nothing but Tyron Woodley for the better part of half a year, and often being reduced to a secondary character as Woodley vented his frustrations about the his perceived treatment in the company, Thompson is quite eager to move on to new challenges.

“His hatred for me, I don’t think it was hatred, but a lot of it was hyping the fight, but the bad talk from him, it don’t know where was coming from with me,” Thompson said. “It was like, c’mon. It was kind of getting tiring, but it’s part of the game and that’s something I’ve experienced a little of at the highest level of the game. It’s nothing that Conor McGregor and his opponents have to go through, but, it was a little different. It was a little different. Right now I’m focused on healing up but I’m excited I’ll be facing a different opponent, a different look, someone different to prepare for. It’s going to be new and exciting.”

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