UFC wanted to use two-time welterweight title challenger Stephen Thompson as a stepping stone for 170-pound “Nomad” Shavkat Rakhmonov, but it sounds like the 39 year-old “Wonderboy” is content to sit and wait for another striker.
Sure beats getting dumped and humped for 15 minutes straight.
“The UFC was talking about maybe Shavkat, he just beat Neil Magny,” Thompson told BJPenn.com. “I was like ‘look UFC, give me someone that is 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 he’s got a fight coming up. Kevin Holland, we were going to take that one but I wanted the Madison Square Garden card and he wanted to fight a little sooner.”
Jingliang and Holland were both booked for UFC 279 on Sept. 10.
The 39 year-old Thompson (16-6-1) is coming off back-to-back decision losses to Gilbert Burns and Belal Muhammad. “Wonderboy” was taken down three times by Burns and seven times by Muhammad, exposing a glaring hole in his wrestling defense.
Rakhmonov (16-0), who turns 28 in October, boasts four takedowns in four fights with UFC.
“It doesn’t make sense for me to face another heavy grappler,” Thompson continued. “Let me work on my craft a little more, especially when it comes to wrestling. They were pushing it, but it just doesn’t make sense, the fans didn’t want to see it either. They are like ‘dude, give Stephen a striker, someone who is going to strike with him.’ It is what it is, that is not a fight that interests me at this point.”
Thompson and Rakhmonov are separated by four spots in the official UFC rankings.