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Stephen Thompson sends message to future opponents: ‘You better be on weight or it’s not going to happen’

Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson learned a valuable yet harsh lesson when he made the ill-fated decision to fight Darren Till after he missed weight for their clash back in 2018.

At the time, Thompson felt like it was the right thing to do, especially serving as the main event but he couldn’t ignore the size and power advantage that Till maintained after hit the scale three and a half pounds over the welterweight limit. In the end, Thompson lost a controversial decision and he walked away knowing that he would never allow an opponent to get away with that again.

Fast forward to this past Friday and Thompson experienced an unwanted flashback after learning the unfortunate news that Michel Pereira would not make weight for their fight at UFC 291.

“When he didn’t [make weight], it was Darren Till all over again,” Thompson told The MMA Hour. “[I’m] giving this guy who’s ranked No. 15 the opportunity to come up and fight me, which guys have done in the past for me. The Johny Hendricks’ [fight], the Rory MacDonald’s, the Jake Ellenberger’s, I wasn’t even ranked, these guys gave me that opportunity. I’ve been doing that with a lot of guys, Vicente Luque, Geoff Neal, all these guys. Even Michel Pereira, who’s [ranked] 15, giving these guys an opportunity to come up. But I feel like it’s almost a slap in the face whenever they don’t make weight.

“When you sign that contract, you’re giving your word, a man’s word, which nowadays it doesn’t mean a whole lot to some people but to me it is. It’s your word that you’re going to do what’s on this contract to be able to make this fight happen and that’s make weight. It’s one thing. Just make weight.”

Pereira set foot on the scale at 174 pounds — a full three pounds over the limit for a non-title welterweight fight — and there was no chance he was going to shed another ounce.

As for Thompson, he hit the mark at 170.5 pounds and he knew negotiations were going to start in an attempt to move forward with the fight. The only problem — Thompson’s mind was already made up because he had no intention of fighting any opponent who couldn’t make weight.

“Everybody knows what happened with Till — I told myself then after that fight, I will never do this again,” Thompson said. “I will never let this happen again.

“[Darren Till] was just a big body. I could feel it out there. It does make a difference. When you’re depleting yourself and you’re already lean and you go into fight camp and you have to cut 11 to 12 pounds more of water weight and you’re struggling. You feel like death. Your voice changes. Your eyes are sinking into the back of your head. Your head hurts. You’re going through cramps. You step on that scale and you’re still 174 and you still have to get down there. That’s how I feel whenever I step on the scale.”

Thompson obviously regrets his decision to accept the Till fight at a catchweight but he never intends to do that again, which is why he’s laying down the law for any future opponents.

“I want everybody to know right now in the 170 division, that if you’re going to fight me now you better be on weight or it’s not going to happen,” Thompson said. “I’m at a place in my career what I want to fight fairly. I don’t want to play any games.”

“I don’t know what needs to be done but I think there should be more and greater consequences for these guys who are coming in with no integrity and no honor to make weight.”

Perhaps the toughest part surrounding the fight cancellation is that Thompson is currently stuck in limbo with no word about when he’ll compete again.

Because he actually did endure a full weight cut, Thompson says he can’t make a quick turnaround to just jump on another card in the next few weeks because his body needs time to recover.

Ideally, the 40-year-old veteran would like the chance to return to some familiar stomping grounds for his next fight with hopes that he’ll draw another top named opponent at UFC 295 in November.

“Madison Square Garden is my plan,” Thompson teased. “I don’t care [who I fight], just not Michel Pereira. He doesn’t deserve it. I gave you the shot.

“I’m not going to give you that chance again. There’s other guys who are out there who are more deserving.”

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