Will Stephen Thompson Get a Title Shot With a Win Over Gilbert Burns?

Published 06/28/2021, 6:54 AM EDT
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – DECEMBER 19: (L-R) Stephen Thompson kicks Geoff Neal in a welterweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on December 19, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC)


The UFC welterweight division is currently under siege as the champion Kamaru Usman is unwilling to let go of his belt. He is undefeated in the UFC and has beaten every meaningful opponent that the division has thrown at him. However, one man is yet to fight him, Stephen Thompson.

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“Wonderboy” has had two title fights in the UFC. He held his own against a prime Tyron Woodley, registering a draw and a majority decision loss. As he couldn’t win the belt, he had to fight his way back to the top. Now, aged 38, he’s finally on the brink of a title shot.

He is fighting Gilbert Burns in the co-main event of UFC 264, which is being headlined by Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier. Burns lost to Usman in his last fight and would want to get a win over here to try to get his revenge. However, beating Thompson won’t be easy.

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Ranked number two in the official UFC rankings for the welterweight division, Burns is known for his incredible ground game and knockout power. On the other hand, the fourth-ranked Thompson has made a lot of fans with his incredible striking and karate. Given their rankings, a win here would give Thompson an excellent chance to fight for the title.

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There are some obstacles in the way as Colby Covington will fight Usman first, and then Leon Edwards is a possible opponent for the Nigerian champion too. However, unlike Edwards and Covington, Thompson and Usman have never fought. Hence, this contest might attract ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’.

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Stephen Thompson and his prospects in the welterweight division

Thompson is coming off two impressive wins over Geoff Neal and Vicente Luque. Having won both fights via unanimous decision, he’ll try to get a finish in this one to get all the hype behind him again. However, he has one of the most loyal fan bases in the UFC, and it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like the man.

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – MARCH 23: Stephen Thompson walks to the Octagon prior to his welterweight bout against Anthony Pettis during the UFC Fight Night event at Bridgestone Arena on March 23, 2019, in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

A finish here, coupled with his amazing marketability, would theoretically give him high chances to get the title shot, but stranger things have happened in the UFC. For now, the people are just happy to see him compete again.

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Aniket Awasthi

321 articles

Aniket Awasthi is a UFC author at EssentiallySports. This STEM undergraduate combines an insatiable urge to write with his admiration for MMA and the UFC in general to enhance his journalism. He calls charismatic names like Chael Sonnen and 'The Count' Michael Bisping as his favorite fighters, but he is a great admirer of the rise of Israel Adesanya ever since he fought Rob Wilkinson at UFC 221.

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