Stephen Thompson has done nothing but impress in his last few outings, and is coming off a one sided win over Johny Hendricks, but the welterweight understands he’s in for a tough test today.
That test will be the #1 ranked contender Rory MacDonald, who Thompson will battle in the main event of UFC Fight Night 89. Not only is MacDonald one of the most well rounded fighters in the division, he’s also one of the most rugged. MacDonald’s toughness was never more evident than in his bloody war with the champ Robbie Lawler last July, which saw the latter win the fight via fifth round stoppage.
Thus, this is why, Thompson recently told UFC.com the following, while discussing the “Red King”:
“He (MacDonald) is very well-rounded, but what he’s got tons of is heart and a frickin’ hard head,” Thompson said. “It’s the same thing I thought about when I was fighting Hendricks, that this guy is going to be very hard to put away. He’s going to be in your face pretty much the whole time and you’re going to have to mentally prepare for that because a lot of guys who take shots like that and keep coming, they can mess with your psyche. If I land my shots and not actually think about him still being there, like I did with Hendricks, you’ll be prepared for that and you’ll be able to go all five rounds. He (MacDonald) is going to take the best shot that I have and probably keep on coming. I just know that if I hit him with several of those shots, it’s going to do some damage.”
Yes, there’s no question that Thompson can do some damage with his striking game, particularly with his kicks. It will be interesting to see what kind of approach MacDonald takes. The consensus is that MacDonald will have a big advantage if the fight goes to the ground. Getting it there, however, is another matter.
Hendricks was picked apart by Thompson and was never able to put his wrestling game into motion. But, MacDonald is taller than Hendricks and has a great jab. So, there’s a lot of variables at play here. We shall see how things go soon enough.
UFC FN 89 will be hosted by the TD Place Arena in Ottawa.