Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson earned his nickname from the MMA prodigy who became a fighter because his father loved Elvis and went 62-0 before joining the UFC
Stephen Thompson was a mixed martial arts phenomenon even before his UFC career began.
Now the “Wonderboy” finds himself chasing accolades that support his early potential.
It’s hard to believe that Thompson, who fights Belal Muhammad on the Lewis vs Daukas card, the Lewis vs Daukaus card on Saturday, is approaching 40, but his nickname “Wonderboy” isn’t just something cute or cute. clever. No, he entered the UFC in 2012 with the kind of record that caught the attention of President Dana White.
In amateur kickboxing, Thompson was 37-0. As a professional kickboxer, he was 20-0. As a professional mixed martial artist, he quickly rose to 5-0 and the UFC got him back. It’s been 62 consecutive unbeaten fights and you can see where the buzz is coming from.
Not that he had never tasted defeat in his youth.
âI learned when I was young to keep my chin up and keep training hard. I know what it’s like to lose and I don’t want to start over. That’s what drives me now, âhe said at the start of his career with the biggest promotion in mixed martial arts.
The 38-year-old embarked on a six-game winning streak before trying his luck for the welterweight title from Tyron Woodley in 2017.
Thompson’s lanky kicks are his legendary asset, but how did he become such a stallion in the game at such a young age?
It was his life. Essentially, his father started a karate school on the basis that his idol, Elvis, practiced karate.
It’s hard to imagine Ray Thompson ever envisioning this seemingly impulsive decision leading to the development of one of MMA’s most famous sons, but that’s how it all started.
“My dad grew up in a little place near Charleston called Moncks Corner [in South Carolina]Thompson said in 2017.
âHe was a huge Elvis fan. Elvis was a seventh degree black belt in karate. My dad knew he couldn’t dance like Elvis or sing like him, but he thought maybe he could try karate, and he fell in love with it.
Although Thompson found a lot of combat sports in his home life with his four other siblings – especially his sister Lindsey who was a true top competitor herself, his contact training began at the age of 12. year.
âModesty, courtesy, self-control, integrity, perseverance, that indomitable spirit that isn’t taught much these days,â Thompson says of his father’s school.
Incredibly, the United Martial Arts Association ranks the school among the top 10 martial arts schools in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Great Britain.
At 15, after spending his formative years almost entirely focused on training, he had his first professional fight and that’s where his nickname “Wonderboy” was born.
âPeople ask me when I’m going to change him to ‘Wonderman’. When I was 15 I fought a guy who was 26 and he was 20-0, undefeated. It was my dad’s way of showing me that I was better than I thought.
âI ended up braking this 26 year old guy. After the fight, the announcer asked my opponent how he was feeling. He replied: ‘I wonder why I stepped in the ring with this boy.’ The announcer jumped on it, and he became ‘Wonderboy’.
Despite the winning record, Thompson knows what it’s like to lose. Including his first shot at Woodley, Thompson has won just two of his last six UFC fights – with a win for box office star Jorge Masvidal.
In a world where Conor McGregor and Masvidal thrive with their larger-than-life characters, there’s nothing eccentric about Thompson. Just a love for sport and life.
He engages in daily prayer and mediation in addition to attending church on Sundays. He also loves to practice martial arts.
He is a black belt in Japanese jiu-jitsu, trains Brazilian jiu-jitsu with his brother-in-law, eighth degree black belt Carlos Machado, and says his wrestling is his second strongest skill behind his proven, decorated strike.
Thompson was supposed to land in the UFC sooner, but a knee injury that saw him tear his ACL, MCL and PCL, then a misguided attempt to come back too soon, delayed his plans.
Upon returning from the layoff, Thompson began training with some of the best MMA minds in the world, including Georges St-Pierre.
His relationship with Rush had developed years before when GSP had been in the corner of an opponent of Thompson, only to watch âWonderboyâ savagely knock out his friend.
The Hall of Fame believed in Thompson’s talent and the camps kept in touch. GSP appealed to Thompson on several occasions to help him in his camps before retiring last year.
Will Thompson’s story be that of a prodigy who never quite reached the top of the mountain? Or will Thompson, the number five welterweight, finally grab the belt that Elvis’ inspired training worked for?
Age is certainly not a barrier, as Glover Teixeira showed in October when he became the light heavyweight champion at 42.