UFC’s Stephen Thompson explains why Shavkat Rakhmonov fight doesn’t interest him

The idea of fighting Shavkat Rakhmonov doesn’t excite Stephen Thompson.

Thompson (16-6-1 MMA, 11-6-1 UFC), a former two-time welterweight title challenger, says the UFC mentioned undefeated finisher Rakhmonov (16-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) as a potential next opponent, but he doesn’t like it.

“Wonderboy” is not one to turn down fights, but after losing two straight lopsided decisions to Gilbert Burns and Belal Muhammad in heavy grappling affairs, Thompson wants to face someone who will stand and trade with him.

“The UFC was talking about maybe Shavkat; he just beat Neil Magny,” Thompson told “I was like, ‘UFC, give me somebody that’s going to want to strike with me.’ I haven’t turned down the last two guys who are grapplers. One of the top grapplers in the welterweight division, didn’t turn him down. I was like, ‘Give me a striker.’ We were looking at Li Jingliang, but I know he’s got a fight coming up. Kevin Holland, we didn’t end up making that one. I wanted the Madison Square Garden card, but I think he wanted to fight a little sooner.”

He continued, “It doesn’t make sense for me to face another heavy grappler. Let me work on my craft a little bit more, especially when it comes to wrestling. They were pushing it, but it just doesn’t make sense. The fans don’t want to see it either. The fans were like, ‘Dude, just give Stephen a striker, somebody that’s going to strike with him.’ It is what it is. That’s just not a fight that interests me at this point.”

Thompson hasn’t competed since December. Prior to his setbacks against Burns and Muhammad, “Wonderboy” earned bonuses in decision wins over knockout artists Vicente Luque and Geoff Neal. He’s currently dealing with a nagging collarbone injury and thinks Michel Pereira is the perfect comeback opponent for him.

“So I’m looking at Michel Pereira,” Thompson said. “I think that would be an awesome fight. He’s up and coming, definitely down to bang it out and strike. I think he called me out, too, on social media, so that would be a good fight for sure.”

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie