Stephen Thompson is looking for another striking showdown in his next UFC bout.
The former two-time welterweight title challenger revealed that he is targeting Michel Pereira as his next opponent, rather than Shavkat Rakhmonov, who recently defeated Geoff Neal at UFC 285.
Thompson spoke to Submission Radio and explained why he prefers Pereira over Rakhmonov, who is ranked higher than him in the division.
“Right now, like you said, I’m rank number seven, he’s [Shavkat Rakhmonov] ranked higher than me. He’s looking for the title, and the title’s always at the top of my to-do list.”
“After those two losses I had against Gilbert Burns and Belal Muhammad, you know, I just didn’t want a grappler at that moment. And, that’s predominantly what he [Rakhmonov] likes to go for, is submission. So, I was like, you know, gimme a striker. And to be able to have somebody like Kevin Holland, who was a great dancing partner, and we put on a show, we got fight of the night as well. We was up for fight of the year. I think maybe one more like that.
“I’m actually looking towards Michel Pereira, which I think would be just an exciting fight. You know, that’s kind of where my mind’s at right now. And after that, we’ll hopefully get somebody that’s ranked above me. After those two losses, I gotta earn my way back up to fight somebody that’s ranked above me, and I understand that. So, I think somebody like Michel, put on another show, and we’ll look at somebody that’s ranked above me.”
Thompson is coming off a unanimous decision win over Kevin Holland in December last year. The fight was a striking clinic from Thompson, who showcased his karate skills and outlanded Holland 163 to 119 in significant strikes. The win snapped a two-fight losing streak for Thompson, who had dropped decisions to Gilbert Burns and Belal Muhammad in 2021.
Pereira is also on a winning streak, having defeated Santiago Ponzinibbio and Andre Fialho in 2022 to make it five wins in a row. The Brazilian is known for his flashy and unpredictable style, often throwing spinning attacks, flying knees, and backflips in his fights. Pereira has won six of his eight UFC bouts and is currently ranked number 10 in the welterweight division.
A potential matchup between Thompson and Pereira would be a treat for the fans who enjoy striking battles. Both fighters have diverse and dynamic arsenals of techniques and can switch stances and angles with ease. Thompson has the edge in experience and accuracy, while Pereira has the advantage in power and creativity. It would be a clash of styles that could produce fireworks in the octagon.
Thompson said he is looking to return to action in May or June this year, possibly during International Fight Week.
“Man, I’m looking at like May, June. Maybe International Fight Week.”