Stephen Thompson signed a new deal with the UFC ahead of his main event meeting with Darren Till at UFC Liverpool. But although “Wonderboy” is content with his new contract, he isn’t overjoyed about not being given a crack at the interim welterweight title, which will be on the line when Rafael dos Anjos faces Colby Covington on June 9 at UFC 225.
Thompson admitted that the UFC’s attempts to match him with Till helped him in his negotiations before he put pen to paper.
“We had some negotiations back and forth with UFC and I am happy with what’s going on in my new contract. It’s definitely an incentive to go out there and do it,” Thompson told Ariel Helwani on a recent episode of The MMA Hour.
“Of course, I’m not in the game for the money, but if the UFC are pushing something you really don’t want or that doesn’t make sense, you can kind of play the game with them a little bit. We did that and we kind of got what we wanted, so we’re gonna go out there and have some fun with smiles on our faces.”
The kickboxing ace admitted that he was “upset” by being left out of the interim title conversation, but acknowledged that his two fights with champion Tyron Woodley likely had something to do with it.
“I’m upset,” he revealed. “Being the number-one contender, why am I not fighting for the interim title? It makes no sense. I know that I fought for the title twice. And the first fight was amazing — we got ‘Fight of the Night,’ we fought to a draw — but the second fight, people weren’t impressed with it.
“But I’m still the number one contender, so why aren’t I fighting for the interim title? Why isn’t the number two guy fighting the number one? It just doesn’t make sense, it’s like they’re not going by the rankings any more. Obviously I’m upset, but it is what it is, there’s no changing it now.”
Thompson insisted that he pushed to get a crack at the interim title, but believes that UFC officials had already made up their decision as to who would get a chance to fight for the secondary strap.
“It was something that we were trying to push for, but it seems like they had their minds set,” Thompson said. “When we were going over the negotiations, they were pushing the Darren Till fight, we were like, ‘Are we not fighting for the interim title, are we not fighting the number two guy?’
“At the time there was talk of an interim title and that was one of the reasons that I was holding off, to see what was going on and to see who was on the list for that. They were set in their ways. They knew who was going to be fighting for the interim title and I wasn’t it.”