After posting a perfect 62-0 record in the sport of kickboxing, Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson made the transition to the world of mixed martial arts.
Same story, different sport.
The winning didn't come to an end, as Thompson went on to win his first six MMA bouts, including a knockout victory over Dan Stittgen at UFC 143.
As Thompson prepares for his upcoming bout at UFC 145, the unbeaten phenom recently sat down with Bleacher Report to discuss his emergence on the premier stage of MMA.
Garrett Derr: The last time we talked, you were about to take part in your UFC debut. You won in impressive fashion. What did it mean to finally get your first win inside the Octagon?
Stephen Thompson: I couldn't believe that kick landed. I really didn't believe it at first. I went into the fight looking for the knockout and didn't know if it would actually happen. When it did happen, I was like, 'Dang, I actually knocked this guy out with a head kick in my first bout.'
It was awesome. There were so many expectations heading into the fight because of my striking. When it happened the way it did, it was a surreal feeling. It was an awesome moment.
GD: You're beginning to build your own name. GSP actually referred to you as one of the best strikers in the welterweight division. How do you handle this added pressure?
ST: I would say I have more pressure this time around compared to my first fight. No one knew what to expect the first time. Now that they saw my first bout and how spectacular it was, they'll want more of that. Now it's Matt Brown. But this isn't something I'm not used to, though, and nothing has really changed.
GD: Speaking of Brown, he's been around the MMA side of things a lot longer than you have. Taking a look at the fight, how do you like the overall matchup and how do you see it playing out?
ST: He's a veteran, so he's got that advantage. He's been in the cage and been in this situation before. But he's just another opponent. Whatever happens, happens. He says he wants to stand and strike, but I don't think he will. He's giving himself some false security. We'll see where it goes.
I want to put on a good show. I want to keep it standing and keep it striking. If his wrestling got a lot better and he tries to take me down, I'll just get back up. I want to stay on my feet. Of course, it's always my goal to try and finish the fight. I think it would be fine if I went all three rounds, though. It would ensure me that I could do that and help me become confident in my conditioning. I'll be happy with a win in whichever way.
GD: I know you've spent some time training with GSP in the past. Have you spent some time with him leading up to this fight, and what's your relationship been like with him?
ST: You know, he's been injured and out of town. He's taking care of healing up and doing some therapy. I didn't make it up to Tristar this time around.
I actually spent some time with Rashad in Florida and did some training down there. I also had Nate Marquardt at my camp for a week and a half. I've been training hard for this fight, and I'm ready to do what I do.
GD: While we're on the subject of Rashad, let's talk about his upcoming bout with Jon Jones at UFC 145. Does he have what it takes to beat the champ?
ST: If it's anyone, it's going to be Rashad. He's a phenomenal athlete and a freak of nature. But at the same time, 'Bones' Jones will bring his A-game. It wont be easy for Rashad at all. They've trained with each other in the past, so they know each other in and out. They're trying to make some changes, and we'll find out Saturday who comes out on top.
GD: Another hot topic that's been trending in the MMA world is Alistair Overeem's positive drug test at the UFC 146 press conference. What are your thoughts on steroids in MMA?
ST: You got guys out there who've been in the game for a while and their body gets beaten down, so I can kind of see why they do it. The body can't heal as fast, but the other side of it is they're cheating. They take this stuff that makes them better, but you also have guys that don't do that. You want it to be you when you step in the cage, not a substance. For me, I would want to know that I brought myself in and nothing else helped me out.
I never really thought about how many guys actually use it. I would like to think that the majority of the fighters aren't. I think the UFC is doing a good thing with enforcing their rules with steroids. People are soon going to be scared to do it. But you'll always have those guys who try and do it and, hopefully, they get caught. But let's keep it fair. Bring yourself to the cage.
GD: I understand you have a strong relationship with your father. Finish up by telling me a little bit about this.
ST: My dad has been there every step of the way since I was two years old. I've got a younger brother who's competing as an amateur right now, and my sister fought kickboxing before I did. He's always been there for all of us.
He's been my main training coach. There's a lot of father-son pairs who have something special, but I have a lot of respect for my dad. He knows best and whatever he says, goes. He's been there for me beyond what anyone else would have done for me. All the credit goes to him.
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