In the sport of kickboxing, the amount of time and hard work spent ultimately reflects the outcome of a man's achievements.
Training for one specified fight can be almost overwhelming, as the effort required is almost too much to bear.
After training and participating in one kickboxing bout, try fighting an additional 56 matches—and not only competing, but winning every single one of them.
Enter Stephen Thompson (5-0 MMA).
Thompson, born in Simpsonville, South Carolina has never felt the feelings of defeat throughout his professional kick boxing career, as he's posted a perfect record of 57-0.
Thompson recently talked with Bleacher Report's Garrett Derr on his transition from kickboxing to the world of mixed martial arts and discussed his UFC debut, which will take place in just a few short days.
"I've been in the sport of martial arts for about 25 years now. My dad owns a school in South Carolina where my siblings and I grew up in. Martial arts was something we all had to do growing up. It was required in our family," laughed Thompson. "I've been training since I was young and had my first kickboxing fight when I was only 15 years old.
"Six years ago I ended up tearing my ACL, and it changed everything. I was out for three years and had two surgeries. I had a lot of time to think about where my future was heading and what I wanted to do with it. I decided to make the transition to MMA. I've been focusing strictly on that ever since," said Thompson. "I believe the sport really builds character and can do a lot of things for you."
Despite his undefeated record en route to earning five world championships, Thompson has no plans to return to the sport.
"At this point in time I'd say probably not. My dad sometimes asks if I'm ever going to take another kickboxing fight. But, I'm really focused on MMA, and this is really all I want to do," stated Thompson. "I love it."
Thompson didn't miss a beat after crossing over to MMA as he won the first five fights of his new career, including two wins by knockout and one by submission.
The "Wonderboy" apparently did enough to attract the attention of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, as Thompson got some of the best news of his life.
"I found out a couple weeks ago from my manager Lex McMahon. He called and said he got a call from the UFC asking if I wanted to take a fight on short notice," stated Thompson. "Without hesitation I told him I would."
"I couldn't believe it. I knew that it was going to come eventually, but I couldn't believe how soon it actually came. I'm really confident that my skills and being in the martial arts world for a long time can help me become a champion at the next level," shared Thompson.
Thompson will enter the Octagon for the very first time on Saturday, February 4th when he takes on Dan Stittgen (7-1) at UFC 143 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Despite the fight being on short notice, Thompson is confident that his unbeaten streak will remain just that—unbeaten.
"He's a great jiu-jitsu fighter, and he's got some standup. But, I believe I have much better standup. That's really my strength. I can go to the ground or wherever the fight really makes its way to. I've had great training in all aspects of the martial arts, and I've been working hard on my wrestling and my ground game," said Thompson. "He seems like a really tough dude so it should make for a great fight."
"My goal is to knock this guy out. I want to keep it standing up. I definitely want to give the crowd a good show, and I want to finish him in the standup. If it goes to the ground then let it, but I'd like to keep it on my feet," shared Thompson.
Thompson, who knows a thing or two about severe injuries, weighed on Georges St-Pierre's ACL tear, as he's spent some time training with the current welterweight champion in the past.
"I know how hard of a worker Georges is as I've done some training with him and spent some time with him in Montreal. I think he's going to be coming back to the cage better than he was before. This guy trains 24/7, and he's a machine. He eats and sleeps this sport," stated Thompson. "Not only will the time allow him to be ready physically but mentally as well."
"He'll have plenty of time to map out where his career is going to be heading. I think he'll be fine. I've been through an injury like that before. At first, it's a mental thing, but Georges can overcome that. He's so positive and he's going to keep working hard."
"It took me two surgeries and three years to get back into it. I made the mistake of hurting it and having to be out more time. He's making the right move by taking his time, and I think we'll see that pay off," stated Thompson. "Whoever fights Georges next might want to watch out."
Not only does Thompson want to reflect St-Pierre as a fighter but his actions outside the Octagon as well.
"There are guys who act differently inside the Octagon compared to outside the Octagon. All they're really doing is hyping up their fights. But, guys like Nick Diaz give the sport a bad reputation. You never see that with Georges. That's what I want to be like," shared Thompson. "I want to be an extremely nice guy and someone who's great in the Octagon as well."
However, if it weren't for Thompson's father, he may not even be in the position he is today.
Thompson credits all his success to his father, who's been by his side every hour of the day from the very beginning stages of his career.
"He's always been there. He's been there for all my brothers and sisters and I. My entire family is very close. But my dad—no one really knows how much he does for me. But, of course I do and I'm thankful for him. He's there in the morning, afternoon and at night. If I'm there, he's there," stated Thompson. "Every single step of the way."
"There's no one who's been a bigger part of my career than him."
For additional information, follow Garrett Derr on Twitter.
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