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Exclusive: Stephen Thompson Opens Up on Woodley Snub

Derek Bowe

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With UFC titles changing hands like a revolving door, it has been impossible to look ahead to future matchups for these current champions. The most recent of such to have a new owner, the UFC welterweight title, now has been laid claim to by Tyron Woodley after his stunning first round knockout of former defending champion Robbie Lawler. The speculation of who Lawler would be facing next had assuredly been solely focused on one man, Stephen Thompson. Thompson has had quite the year, prior to this weekend, the majority in the belief Thompson had earned himself a title shot ahead of the new champion, Woodley. Thompson bested two top five contenders en route to his placement as the current number one ranked welterweight in the division behind the champion.

It is quite a day at MMA Latest when one of the best fighters in the world stops in to talk with Jordan and Sam. Stephen shared his thoughts on where he stands, his title shot chances, as well as what he thinks of his potential opponent, champion Tyron Woodley’s live television dismissal of Thompson’s claim to the title shot just after the UFC 201 had concluded.

Thompson shared his candid thoughts with Jordan.

“I was fairly nervous because I knew I wanted to call out the winner but I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it.” Thompson said.
“I’m not a confrontational guy at all, I hate it actually. But, when you got Dominick Cruz and Cormier in your ear saying ‘you got to call this guy out’ saying this is time man, this is your time to call him out’ I was like ‘stop it, leave me alone I’m figuring it out’. I then ended up saying it and I sounded like a goober calling him out because I’m not a mean guy.”

Stephen was being way too harsh on himself, his call-out of Woodley was just fine. It was short, conveyed his desire, Woodley knew precisely what he was asking for. Though Stephen was surely not prepared for the answer he received from the new champion.

“In my head, I was laughing like ‘are you kidding me?'” Thompson said. “You literally have had the belt around your waist for thirty minutes and you’re telling the number one contender ‘no’ and that you want a money fight?”

“It upset me you know and then Cormier is like looking at me like ‘you gotta call him out again, you gotta bring it back, I’ll feed it back to you’. It then goes back on Cormier and he’s making sparks fly and oh my goodness–it was fun though.”

Sitting Thompson in the studio was a little obvious move by the UFC to set up such a situation following the event, though the UFC were probably just as shocked as Thompson was. Stephen goes on to make his pitch on why he is the guy who should be challenging for the UFC welterweight title next.

“I believe I’ve earned more than anyone in the division. Especially after all the stuff he went through after his last fight. He was the number four ranked guy in the division and he then waited 18-months saying ‘I deserve it, I deserve it, I deserve it’. There’s no one else in the division than myself. I think I did what the fans wanted and what the UFC wanted he just tells me flat no.”

Jordan posed the question to Stephen, asking what he would do of he were in Tyron’s shoes, Thompson had the expected response.

“I’m in the business to be the best fighter,” Thompson said. “The money is a bonus thing for me, and if I was in his situation it would be the guy most deserving in the division. I’m here to face the best guys and my Dad can vouch for me that I’m a straight up guy and that I want to do things the right way.”

“You’re the champion and there’s a number one guy there for a reason–so that’s the guy that you got to face. You defend that belt a few times and then perhaps we can talk about a money fight. That’s what I believe. Fighting honourably and doing the right thing is what it’s all about. That’s what martial arts is all about.”

Strong takes from the number one ranked welterweight. Takes which are fact based, and near to impossible to dispute. Unfortunately we do not make the decisions on who receives the chance to fight for a title. Thompson certainly deserves his shot, he is as deserving as anyone in the entire sport, at any weight. A fighter with such an exciting style, ability, as well as a about as good a person as there is in this game. That being said, Tyron is the champion, he will likely defend his title against whichever challenger he sees fit. If sporting logic does prevail, we are in store for an outstanding match-up between two exceptional talents in Woodley, and Thompson.

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Announcement

Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz in the works for UFC 223

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UFC 223 looks to add a variety of intriguing bouts. With Paul Felder vs. Al Iaquinta reportedly set for the unannounced UFC 223 card, the promotion looks to add a high stakes female flyweight match-up. According to MMANYTT.com, sources confirmed a bout between Felice Herrig and Karolina Kowalkiewicz, is in the works for the pay-per-view card.

 

Assuming the match-up does come to be, both women have much to gain from a victory. For Herrig, she currently sits on a four-fight win streak. A streak in which the strawweight contender defeated Kailin Curran, Alexa Grasso, Justine Kish, and Cortney Casey. The MMA veteran, Herrig, began fighting professionally in 2009. As of late, her issues with the marketing machine that is the UFC have intensified.

After demonstrating her technical prowess over Justine Kish at UFC Fight Night 122: Chiesa vs. Lee, Herrig put her emotions on display. She stated at the post-fight media scrum, “Sometimes, I feel like, I’m not young and beautiful enough for the UFC to want to promote me. And it’s sad because I’ve really worked so hard to be here and it’s hard to see these people who’ve not been through what I’ve been through. Who just got into the UFC at the right time. They’re getting all these opportunities and I see how hard I work to get here and it’s just like, it doesn’t matter. I just feel like, ‘I’m not pretty enough and I’m not getting any younger'”.

A frustrated Felice Herrig then spoke to MMAJunkie.com in December. She claimed, “Aside from (former UFC women’s strawweight champ) Joanna (Jedrzejczyk), I’m the only strawweight who’s gone on a four-fight winning streak. That’s a fact. At this point, I want to fight someone in the top 10. It doesn’t really make sense for me to keep fighting girls that are ranked below me. That’s the whole point. If I want to keep working my way up. I fight the most dangerous girls outside the top 10”. The #9 ranked women’s flyweight has a point. In her UFC career, she recorded one loss in six appearances. Yet, she has one co-main event booking, while fighters like Michelle Waterson, booked the main event in her second UFC bout. In Waterson’s third bout, she received a co-main event scheduling. Understandably, Felice Herrig is upset with her situation.

Later in her interview, Herrig brought up Kowalkiewicz as a potential next opponent. “For whatever reason, I really want to fight Karolina. I just think that would be an exciting fight… Stylistically, I really like that fight. She’s ranked above (me), and it may be a good gauge for me,” she stated. Right now, it looks like Herrig is close to getting what she wants.

Kowalkiewicz last fought in her native country of Poland on the UFC Fight Pass card, UFC Fight Night 118: Cowboy vs. Till, in October. The Polish star defeated Jody Esquibel, after losing consecutive contests to former UFC female strawweight champion, Joanna Jedrzejcyk and Claudia Gadelha, respectively.

A win for either makes a good case for the next or an eventual title challenger. Kowalkiewicz holds a victory over current division champion, Rose Namajunas. While a win for Herrig would further establish her impressive win streak and undoubtedly give her the boost in the rankings she deserves.

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Douglas Lima found out about change to co-main event at Bellator 192 from the internet

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Bellator 192 fight card has gone through a shake-up over the past week. Bellator president Scott Coker revealed last week that the scheduled welterweight title fight between Rory MacDonald and champion Douglas Lima will now be serving as the co-main event and the heavyweight matchup between Chael Sonnen and Rampage Jackson would instead take top billing. At the time no explanation was made for the change. Monday Douglas Lima was a guest on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani to discuss this change.

“I was little bummed, but it is what it is, it’s business you know. I was pretty excited you know? Being the main event, having Rampage fight as the co-main event, I was happy there. Then I was bummed out that they changed it back to the co-main event. It’s not going to change a thing for me, I’m just focusing on the fight.”

Lima has been notoriously looked over in the eyes of fight fans. A longtime member of Bellator and a two-time champion has not gotten the notice he deserves and hopes to get.

“I found out through the internet, nobody tells me anything, I didn’t know. the same thing happened in New York, I thought my fight would be before the two main events there, but it ended up being the first fight of the night on Pay-Per-View. Hopefully, it doesn’t take anything away from the fight, you know spotlight and stuff.”

Lima is looking to make all the naysayers take notice at Bellator 192 that takes place at The Forum in Inglewood, Califonia on January 20th.

“This is the fight I’ve been waiting for for a long time. To get my name out there, to get people to know who I am. I’ve been delivering a lot of good fights, fights fans like to watch but no attention yet. I’m hoping though that after a win over Rory this week it will really put my name out there and show all these welterweights out there that I am for real.”

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Fight Announcements

Al Iaquinta vs. Paul Felder rescheduled for UFC 223 in April

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MMA fans around the world wept in deep sorrow when Al Iaquinta withdrew from a bout scheduled for UFC 218 against Paul Felder. Weep no more, for Paul Felder faces Al Iaquinta at UFC 223. Rumblings behind the match-up, first reported by FloCombat.com, came Sunday night before MMAFighting.com confirmed the bout scheduled for unannounced pay-per-view card, later in the evening.

 

The original bout fell through due to a severe knee injury to Iaquinta. He spoke to BJ Penn Radio about the injury nearly a week before the December 2nd, PPV event in Detriot. The Long Island real estate agent claimed, “I tore my PCL and my MCL maybe three or four months ago… for me to really put in a full training camp and do what I need to do, I would’ve had to just focus on fighting and physical therapy… it was the kind of thing where all roads led to me not kind of taking a risk and fighting on December 2nd”.

Iaquinta went on to say, “I kind of accepted the fight, but I never signed a bout agreement… I was kind of told I had to give them an answer pretty quick. It was a fight I thought I really wanted. I thought it was a good stylistic match-up for me, so I accepted the fight, and then thinking about it over the course of a day, we realized it probably wasn’t a smart decision for my health, for everything”.

An outspoken lightweight, he is not the first of his kind. Al Iaquinta is no stranger to idly waiting on the sideline for the UFC to make a move. Contract disputes and other bad strokes of luck left the Serra-Longo with three octagon appearances since 2015. The feud between Iaquinta and the promotion comes as a surprise when looking at the credentials of the aforementioned fighter. With an octagon record of 8-2, he earned notoriety as one of the best lightweights in the world. During his time in the UFC, he defeated Kevin Lee, Ross Pearson, Joe Lauzon, Jorge Masvidal, and most recently Diego Sanchez.

His opponent, “The Irish Dragon”, Paul Felder, holds an impressive UFC record of his own. At 7-3, Felder defeated tough competition as well. His record notes wins over Daron Cruickshank, Jason Saggo, Stevie Ray, and Charles Oliveira. Even more impressive than his record, his knockout ratio. At this stage of his career, Felder knockouts 55% of his opponents (10 knockouts in 18 career pro bouts).

Like his opponent Iaquinta, Paul Felder has a separate career outside of fighting. As many should notice, Felder found a role as a color commentator with the promotion he fights for. Following the footsteps in a long line of fighters before him, Felder announced multiple events alongside another new addition to the UFC broadcast team, Brendan Fitzgerald.

PPV card, UFC 223 and its location are not official yet. Despite a lack of an announcement, the event takes place in Brooklyn, New York at the Barclays Centre, according to multiple reports. Currently, the card features no official bouts. Reports state Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (per Jim Edwards), and Evan Dunham vs. Mairbek Taisumov (per Farah Hannoun) are both in the works for UFC 223.

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