Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson has been making the trip from South Carolina to New York City regularly for about three years.
The famed training partner of Georges St-Pierre during his illustrious title reign caught the eye of rising middleweight star Chris Weidman and the rest, as they say, is history.
Thompson and Weidman have become as close as brothers – and they are actually family. Weidman’s sister married Thompson’s brother.
Over the course of the last three years, Thompson has made New York City his home away from home.
“There’s no fans like New York fans. I’m going to win this title for you guys,” Thompson said Wednesday at the UFC 205 Open Workouts. “I’ve been coming out here since Chris Weidman fought Anderson Silva, and you guys have made me feel very welcomed and like one of your own.”
Thompson is one of the most dynamic strikers in all of MMA. He was a professional kick boxer become making the switch to MMA, and his elusive quickness, hand speed and lethal head kicks have made him a virtually unstoppable force in the division.
UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley brought in young rising star Sage Northcutt for his training camp to try and provide a similar look and feel that he’ll have against Thompson. Northcutt is a karate fighter, but Wonderboy thinks that nobody can emulate his style.
“I don’t think he’s ready. Sage Northcutt is a good karate guy but if you watch him fight he’s more of a wrestler,” Thompson said. “It’s very difficult to figure (me) out. I’ve fought a lot of guys who have brought in karate guys and I’m just a little different.”
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Thompson is planning on putting on a performance that Muhammad Ali himself would be proud of.
“We’re in Madison Square Garden and Muhammad Ali performed here. Kick and move, baby – move like a butterfly and sting like a bee,” Thompson said.
“Anytime I visualize this fight – my hand will be raised and the belt will go around my waste.”
Matt Parrino is a digital producer and writer for UFC.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MattParrinoUFC