Stephen Thompson is set to headline UFC Nashville when he takes on the former lightweight champion, Anthony Pettis who is moving up in weight to challenge Thompson. Although it is a big name for ‘Wonderboy’ he didn’t really want to fight Pettis at first, rather he wanted to take on streaking welterweight contender, Santiago Ponzinibbio.
“That’s another guy I tried to face, I tried to fight,” Thompson revealed when asked about Ponzinibbio (via MMANews). “The plan was to fight him in January. I was on Christmas vacation, still training cause it was to the point where I was just waiting on a contract. But I kept getting back, the UFC was saying he needed a little more time to prepare for me and things like that.
“Then my manager I think kind of touched with his manager and he just said he didn’t want to fight. I’m like OK, well shoot, what do I do now? I thought that would be an awesome fight. He’s a banger, a striker, known to knock dudes out, I think he finished Gunnar Nelson in the first round with a big right hand so you know he’s got power. He’s always game. I thought it was going to happen but it just didn’t work so here we are. Maybe in the future.”
Ultimately, for Thompson it is frustrating that he couldn’t get a fight with any top welterweight and will now have to challenge a lightweight moving up. The hope was he could start getting top-ranked opponents to try and get another crack at the title.
“It is kind of disappointing,” Thompson said. “I know everybody is considering me a gatekeeper at this point but a dangerous gatekeeper at that. It is a little disappointing that there are some guys in that division who I think would put on a great fight but then it doesn’t happen.”
For now, he will have to beat Pettis before he can get a top-ranked welterweight and hopefully get another shot at the title.