Thompson shines in UFC debut, earns knockout
Stephen Thompson made his UFC debut Saturday with a knockout that won’t soon be forgotten.
The decorated kickboxer fought Dan Stittgen in the opening bout of UFC 143 and had his opponent frozen in front of him from the very start of the action. Unable to close the distance, Stittgen attempted to trade on the feet, while Thompson danced in front of him without any worry, sensing little danger.
After four minutes of precise kickboxing, but little action, Thompson did exactly what was expected of him. He faked low with a kick and connected to Stittgen’s head. Stittgen immediately dropped to the floor, and Thompson knelt in the center of the Octagon, satisfied with the result in his debut.
“No words can really describe it,” Thompson said. “This is the real deal, the best promotion in the world, and I’m so grateful to be here. Those round kicks, if you develop them they can pack a lot of power and people don’t see them.”
The victory is his sixth as a professional mixed martial artist, though his career in martial arts began long ago.
“No words can describe how I feel right now,” Thompson later stated, after having time to soak up the win. “I’m beyond happy to have this win. It’s my first win in the UFC and I can’t wait to get back out there and do it again. I took my time and felt him out. GSP (Georges St. Pierre) is my training buddy, and before the fight he gave me some words of encouragement and told me to focus on what I am going to do and block everything else out. That was amazing advice and exactly what I did.”
Thompson’s father, Ray, started training his son in karate over two decades ago. Thompson took his experience and skill set into the realm of kickboxing over 10 years ago, winning his first title, the ISKA Georgia State Middleweight Amateur title, in 1999. Since that accomplishment, Thompson went on to win 12 more belts, including five world titles. He is an astounding 56-0 as a professional kickboxer with 39 knockouts.
As far as his young MMA career is concerned, Thompson now is a perfect 6-0. Three of those victories have come via knockout.