‘Wonderboy’ meets Matt Brown on Saturday’s card
ATLANTA – One could forgive Stephen Thompson if he's still a little wide-eyed over this whole UFC thing.
"Wonderboy" became somewhat of an overnight sensation in February when he debuted in the UFC as a highly touted kickboxer with an massive unbeaten record and dozens of knockouts. Just over four minutes into his fight with Dan Stittgen at UFC 143, he landed the head kick that made him the Next Big Thing.
"It’s unbelievable – it’s a dream come true," Thompson told the media Thursday after a workout at Georgia State University in Atlanta. "I’m fighting for the UFC, and it’s the biggest promotion in the world. They are treating us right and I couldn’t ask for anything better. It’s hard to describe how I feel right now, but it’s awesome."
To prepare for Brown (13-11, 6-5 UFC), Thompson (6-0, 1-0 UFC) added an extra UFC 145 dimension to his camp by going to South Florida to spend some time with Rashad Evans and the "Blackzilians" team at Imperial Athletics.
"I trained with Rashad, and the guy is a beast," Thompson said. "Mentally, physically and emotionally, he’s so there and ready. I’m excited to see that (fight against Jon Jones). I’ve trained with Rashad before in New Mexico. I helped him prepare for Lyoto Machida because we have a similar style. We made a good relationship and have been friends ever since."
Thompson said he also brought Nate Marquardt in to his camp in Simpsonville, S.C. But he cautioned against people expecting him to deliver another highlight reel head-kick knockout against Brown.
"There is a little bit of pressure," Thompson said. "When you make your UFC debut and have a four-minute head kick knockout, that will happen. But you’re going to keep fighting better guys. Matt Brown has been in the UFC for a long time now, and had many UFC fights. He’s got a lot of experience. I’m not expecting to go out there and knock him out. I have to go out there and do my thing, and if it goes three rounds I’ll be happy with it."
There has been some mild talk that Brown has an axe to grind with Thompson. But the two fought on the same show in February – and Thompson took the Knockout of the Night bonus, leaving Brown and his second-round TKO win over Chris Cope hanging out to dry.
Thompson said Brown even called in to a local radio that he was on, just to give him a good old-fashioned ribbing.
"He called into a radio show I was on and we were talking junk back and forth," Thompson said. "It was good and I think it’s going to be exciting. He's upset that I took a $65,000 bonus away from him at the last event. But it wasn’t even a knockout he had – it was a technical knockout. He’s kind of upset about that."
But at the end of the day, Thompson said he's trying to remain grounded as the whole UFC experience gets bigger and bigger for him.
"It’s been a good camp," Thompson said. "I keep a lot of positive people and family around me and they keep my head right.”
Thompson and Brown fight on the preliminary card of UFC 145, which takes place Saturday at Philips Arena in Atlanta. Their fight will be part of a four-bout card on the FX cable network.
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