Former two-time UFC welterweight title challenger, Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson has earmarked his Octagon return for November 6. at Madison Square Garden in New York City as part of the UFC 268 pay-per-view event — and is open to the possibility of a rematch against fellow two-time title chaser, Jorge ‘Gamebred’ Masvidal four years after their initial meeting in the ‘Big Apple’.
Simpsonville striking standout, Thompson last featured in the co-main event of UFC 264 earlier this month at the T-Mobile Arena, suffering a one-sided unanimous decision loss to the stifling, Gilbert ‘Durinho’ Burns. The judging loss snapped an impressive two-fight winning spree for the veteran karate practitioner.
For Masvidal, the knockout artist last headlined UFC 261 from the Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida in April — suffering a second consecutive defeat to reigning welterweight kingpin, Kamaru Usman in the form of a brutal second round knockout loss.
In the pair’s initial meeting back in November of 2017, North Carolina native, Thompson handed American Top Team trainee, Masvidal a rather comfortable unanimous decision defeat, before the Floridian would enjoy an infamous three-fight undefeated streak ahead of two title fight appearances.
Speaking with MMA Island during a recent interview, Thompson outlined a November timeframe for his Octagon return, and noted his interest in possibly standing opposite the aforenoted, Masvidal as the pair look to return to the winner’s enclosure, as well as reflecting on the veteran’s performance four years ago.
“I think so, go back and watch that fight,” Thompson said in regards to Masvidal’s performance, and how the Floridian has switched course since then. “Even before my fight, you can tell that there was — I don’t know if it was a mental issue or he (Jorge Masvidal) just didn’t feel confident in himself. Or maybe he didn’t just have that business — that mindset that he’s got now. After we had fought, you just saw a change in him like no other. I think he did a T.V. show right after that fight. And I think during that T.V. show that he did, he said, something had changed and his mentality has changed. He’s been crushing people.“
“So I do think he’s a more dangerous (Jorge) Masvidal, which makes for a way more exciting fight,” Thompson explained. “He’s gotten better, I’ve gotten better I think it would be an awesome fight for sure. And I know he’s been talking about how he wants that fight back, so let’s make it happen. I know I wanna fight in November at Madison Square Garden, I think they (the UFC) announced that they’re gonna be going back there. (I) always love fighting in New York City — that’s kinda like my home away from home when Chris Weidman lived there. So, (I) love those fans in New York.“
Since their initial bout back in November of 2017, Thompson has gone on to establish a 2-3 promotional record, dropping losses to former title challenger, Darren Till, former lightweight champion, Anthony Pettis, and the aforementioned, Burns — in between a pair of impressive unanimous decision wins over Vicente Luque and Geoff Neal.
For 36-year-old Miami native, Masvidal, the veteran knockout ace bested common-foe, Till in his Octagon return before lodging the fastest knockout in Octagon antiquity with a five-second flying-knee stoppage over Ben Askren, before clinching the symbolic BMF championship with a fourth round doctor’s stoppage win over Nate Diaz — before his pair of losses to UFC 268 headliner, Usman.
The Madison Square Garden venue has brought with it some mixed fortunes for both Thompson and Masvidal, with the former defeating the latter in his most recent appearance on the east coast, after a majority draw championship challenge against Tyron Woodley back in November of 2016. After his loss to Thompson, Masvidal returned to the venue two years later at UFC 244 to defeat Diaz in a headlining tilt.