If there was any question about the best striker in the welterweight division, Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson answered emphatically with his performance in the UFC Vegas 17 main event.
The former title challenger was dominant from start to finish as he put on a striking clinic to batter Geoff Neal throughout all five rounds. “Wonderboy” was dazzling on the feet, beating Neal to the punch in nearly every exchange and just keeping the Contender Series veteran guessing no matter how hard he tried to stage a comeback.
In the end, all three judges scored the fight 50-45 for Thompson as he earns his second straight win in a row overall.
“Feels great,” Thompson said about his win. “I’ve been off for a year. Broke both my hands in my last fight a year ago at UFC 244. This is the longest time I’ve actually been off in the fight game for a while. Just glad to be back. Geoff is a tough, tough opponent.”
Always an impossibly tough puzzle to figure out, Thompson was fast on his feet while launching a variety of kicks and counter strikes as Neal was attempting to cut off the cage and stalk him across the octagon. Neal did a good job keeping his hands up high to avoid any serious damage but Thompson was keeping him guessing at every turn.
Even in the moments when Neal would charge forward in an attempt to overwhelm Thompson, the former two-time title contender was quick to toss out a signature side kick or just move out of the way before anything could connect.
The assault from Thompson only continued as time ticked away into the second round.
The 37-year-old veteran was blitzing Neal with shots to the head, kicks to the body and mixing up his combinations in such a way that the powerful puncher from Texas just couldn’t get a beat on him.
Neal did manage to trap Thompson against the cage at one point where he unleashed a huge overhand left but it was ultimately a glancing blow that didn’t land with full impact.
That exchange managed to give Neal a little more confidence in order to crowd “Wonderboy” in an attempt to close the distance but Thompson was smart to circle away before he spent too much time against the cage.
With 10 minutes remaining, “Wonderboy” was definitely in control while dancing around Neal’s attempted offense and he was just blistering with his strikes. Again and again, Thompson was snapping Neal’s head back with a right jab, which then led to head kick attempts as he tried to finish the fight.
Neal did manage to draw Thompson into a couple of wild exchanges but that still didn’t lead to one of his knockout punches finding a home on his opponent’s chin. Just before time ran out, Thompson was still blasting away with punches and kicks as he kept adding to the overall significant strikes landed.
While Neal managed to stick around for all three rounds, Thompson was just too much on the feet as he showed why he’s still ranked among the best welterweights in the world in the UFC.
Prior to Saturday night, Thompson had been asking for a higher-ranked opponent and that’s still his wish as he offered a rematch to Jorge Masvidal, who he soundly defeated back in 2017.
“’Wonderboy’s still here,” Thompson said. “That title, 2021, I’m telling you is going to be mine. I want to see the NMF versus the BMF. Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson vs. Jorge Masvidal 2.”