The welterweight division has been a rough place for pure strikers, but Stephen Thompson may have a chance to change that.
With a decorated karate background, "Wonderboy" is looking to alter the way MMA fans, fighters and trainer look at that discipline.
Lyoto Machida is one of the only high level MMA star to still use karate as his main discipline. No one is saying Thompson is near Machida, but he has a little "Dragon" in him.
In a blog with Fightline, Thompson said the karate stance can be a big advantage in a world filled with takedown artists.
"The average MMA guys have a boxer's stance which makes it easier for a wrestler when they try and take you down. I tend to stand sideways and that gives them only one leg to shoot for, it tends to make it more difficult to try and take me down," wrote Thompson.
Thompson, 28, was unbeaten in the karate/kickboxing ranks. He was 37-0 as an amateur and 20-0 as a pro. He got turned onto MMA when Georges St-Pierre's camp asked him to work with the UFC 170-pound champ. GSP returned the favor by working with Thompson on fight night at UFC 143.
Having Georges St. Pierre walk out with me to my corner really helped me out. He doesn't walk out with just anyone and I was like whoa, you're going to walk out with me! He said he wanted to be there for me and I have to tell you that I felt honored; I thought that was really cool. I was a little nervous and excited at the same time to get started, and GSP came in and gave me some really good advice.
Thompson's debut was ridiculous. Dan Stittgen got a boot to the head and nearly went to sleep. The kicked dubbed the "Moneymaker" got Thompson the Knockout of the Night award, good for $65,000. Much of the night was a blur for Thompson. Even the opening introduction when UFC ring announcer Bruce Buffer botched his first name calling him Stef-fen.
I was in such a trance that I didn't even realize that Bruce Buffer pronounced my name wrong during the introductions. He apologized to me afterwards, but I didn't care.
Thompson said he'd love to bounce back quickly and get a fight at UFC 145 in Atlanta on Apr. 21. Thompson is a South Carolina native. He grew up about two hours north of Atlanta.
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