Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson is the best outside fighter in the UFC according to Robert Whittaker — and he should know a thing or two about it.
Before he became the UFC middleweight champion, Whittaker was competing in the welterweight division. He would face Thompson at UFC 170 in 2014 and suffer a first-round knockout defeat. That fight happens to be the last time “The Reaper” has lost in the UFC, too.
Recently discussing Alexander Hernandez’s outside fighting in his controversial win against Francisco Trinaldo at UFC San Antonio last week, Whittaker paid tribute to Thompson’s skills.
“You know who’s the best, I think the best person who fights on the outside is Wonderboy Thompson,” Whittaker said on Grange TV. “He fights on the outside, he gives you different looks from the outside. He’s got good long range attacks. And when he comes in, it’s hard to see because he disguises it behind other stuff.
“And a big thing with an outside fighter going on the inside to do those attacks, those sort of blitz fighters, you can’t blitz in a straight line. You can’t blitz with very one-dimensional attacks because a guy like Trinaldo who is controlling the center and playing a pretty good counter-game is going to sit there and wait for your timing. As you come in, if you don’t hurt him or you don’t get off first, he’s just going to pop you, pop you, pop you, and then you have to get back out and do that again.”
Whittaker also spoke of his fight with Thompson in an earlier episode this month when discussing the early stoppages during UFC Sacramento.
While he felt that he could have continued against the former welterweight title challenger, he had no problem with the referee’s decision.
“Again, I always support the ref’s decision,” Whittaker explained. “I believe they’re doing what they think is best at the time. They have a heavy, heavy responsibility with a lot of pressure. This is coming from someone who feels a little salty from an early stoppage in my own career. When I got dropped by Thompson, I felt I could have kept fighting. But the ref stopped it and I was a little salty afterwards thinking I could have kept fighting.
“But then, I shouldn’t have let it get that far anyway. It was a great win for him and the ref’s doing the best job he can so I’m supporting the ref’s decision because it’s a hard job to do. And if any of the people are complaining, you think you can do better? Do better. Try.”