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Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson explains why he’s inspired by Jorge Masvidal’s recent success

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson isn’t jealous that Jorge Masvidal is headlining UFC 244 almost exactly two years after a decisive win over “Gambred.”

“I think it’s pretty cool for Masvidal, and it’s kind of inspirational for me,” Thompson explained when speaking to MMA Fighting.

At UFC 217, Thompson displayed accurate striking and a disciplined game plan, once dropping Masvidal and ultimately earning a unanimous decision.

Following that fight, Masvidal stepped away for over one year before returning in March, where he knocked out Darren Till in the second round. He then earned the fastest knockout in UFC history with a five second flying knee that ended Ben Askren’s title hopes in dramatic fashion.

Now Masvidal is headlining Saturday night’s card against Nate Diaz, with the winner being crowned the first ever ‘BMF’ (baddest motherf*cker) champion complete with a custom $50,000 title belt awarded to the winner.

On the flipside, Thompson has dropped his two subsequent fights since defeating Masvidal, and he’ll look to get back on track with a matchup against Vicente Luque on the same card this weekend. Considering how he handily he won their fight back in 2017, it would be understandable if Thompson was building himself up by tearing down Masvidal. But that’s absolutely not what he’s doing.

Instead, Thompson could be happier for Masvidal.

“Even though I beat him two years ago, he won two fights and he’s back at the top of the game again,” Thompson said. “He’s probably up for a title fight, maybe controversial, but he could be up for a title fight after just [three] wins.

“Me getting knocked out my last fight (and) losing against Darren Till, it kind of inspires me I could be back at the top of the game after two fights if I play my cards right. It’s really cool. I’m happy for him. It’s definitely going to be a great fight.”

Thompson understands that in MMA, and particularly in the UFC, a fighter is only as good as his or her last performance. When he was riding a seven-fight win streak including a knockout against former champion Johny Hendricks and a dominant performance over Rory MacDonald, he was the hottest thing in the welterweight division at the time.

Three years later, he’s 1-3-1 in his past five fights, and he’s sitting outside the top-five in the welterweight rankings after suffering a shocking knockout courtesy of Anthony Pettis in his previous performance.

Because fighting is filled with so many highs and lows, Thompson isn’t getting down about the tough run he’s been on lately. Instead, he looks at Masvidal as a perfect example of how he could turn everything around with an impressive win at UFC 244.

“I play my cards right, I could be right back in the mix of things,” Thompson said. “I beat him, two fights, and boom, he’s right back at the top. That’s kind of inspirational for me, and hats off to the guy. I think it’s awesome for him.”

Thompson definitely has a good dance partner lined up with Luque, as both seek to climb up the welterweight ranks with a win.

The Brazilian is 10-1 in his past eleven fights including six knockouts, three submissions and four post-fight performance bonuses. “Wonderboy” can’t help but get excited at the kind of fight he expects to product alongside Luque this weekend.

“This guy’s on a six-fight win streak,” Thompson said about Luque. “He’s being talked about right now. After his last fight with Mike Perry, it was controversial on the win, but he broke his nose in the last 20 seconds of fight. It was amazing, and this guy’s fought some of the best guys in the division. He did lose to Leon Edwards, but Leon Edwards is at the top of the game, too. The guy is very tough. He’s got that Dutch kickboxer style and it’s sort of that kickboxer versus karate style.

“I’m expecting this guy to come forward for sure. I think it’s going to be a great fight. I’ve prepared for three, five minute rounds and a war. That’s what I’ve prepared for. If I knock him out, that’s even better. But just mentally, if I’m out there and it’s grueling, I’m ready for it.”

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