Stephen Thompson sees his future through Johny Hendricks.
The two welterweights square off Saturday night in the main event of UFC Fight Night 82.
Thompson, who has won five in a row to improve to 11-1 in his career, understands exactly what a win over a former champion like “Bigg Rigg” will do for his standing in the division.
“Finishing out Johny Hendricks should put me in contention,” he said, during a recent appearance on UFC Tonight. “That’s the goal. It’s exciting for me to show fans and the UFC I’m ready for the next level in competition.”
After debuting inside the Octagon with a first round head-kick knockout of Dan Stittgen back in 2012, Thompson suffered a tough decision loss to top contender Matt Brown. Since, though, he has rebounded with finishes of Chris Clements, Robert Whittaker and Jake Ellenberger among his last five wins.
While the resume speaks for itself, “Wonderboy” knows that Hendricks will be his “toughest fight and fighter I’ve faced so far.”
“You’re going to see some sparks flying,” he added. “The goal is to put on a show and fight the best in the world. He’s definitely one of them.”
Originally, the two were the co-main event for UFC 196. When that fell through, officials changed the contest to the headline act. This will be the second straight fight scheduled for five rounds for Thompson, as his first round finish of Ellenberger last year also received top billing.
“We asked for the five, five-minute rounds,” Thompson said. “The goal is to get the title best around my waist. This is going to prepare me for that and a huge step up and we got what we asked for.”