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Stephen Thompson Expects Backpay and a Title Shot at UFC 296

The former UFC welterweight title challenger was in good spirits, eagerly anticipating his upcoming showdown against the undefeated Shavkat Rakhmonov at UFC 296. But beyond the promise of victory, Thompson had another expectation - backpay.

The story begins with Thompson's scheduled bout at UFC 291 against Michel Pereira, a matchup eagerly awaited by fans. However, the excitement was short-lived when Pereira tipped the scales three pounds over the welterweight limit, coming in at 174 pounds.

In contrast, Thompson had diligently met the agreed-upon weight of 170.5 pounds. Given the violation of the contracted weight limit, Thompson chose not to proceed with the fight, fully expecting to receive his show money as he had upheld his end of the bargain. Unfortunately, that didn't happen.

As Thompson candidly put it, "I do believe that they're going to - I think the deal is, when I fight Shavkat, they're going to add on what they owed me for the last fight." It was a matter of principle for Thompson, who believed that fairness should prevail.

Thompson's journey to UFC 296 was a convoluted one, with various factors at play. Initially, there was mutual interest in a fight between Thompson and former champ Kamaru Usman. However, the UFC repeatedly informed Thompson that Usman had different plans.

Simultaneously, Ian Garry, fresh off a victory over Neil Magny at UFC 292, called Thompson out. The UFC even offered Thompson a bout against Garry, but he declined, asserting that he was done fighting opponents ranked below him. He desired a challenge from someone ranked above him, and he got what he wished for.

Now, at 40 years old, Thompson, ranked No. 7 in the welterweight division, faces the formidable No. 6, Shavkat Rakhmonov. For Thompson, it's an opportunity to hand Rakhmonov his first professional defeat and further his title aspirations.

Thompson, fresh off a victory over Kevin Holland, understands the significance of this bout. Rakhmonov's flawless 100-percent finish rate has made him a daunting prospect, and Thompson is relishing the challenge.

"People are looking at this guy, undefeated, hundred percent finish rate. Nobody wants to fight this guy, so here I am," Thompson said. "I'm like, do I fight somebody ranked below me? Do I fight somebody ranked above me, probably one of the toughest guys in the division who nobody wants to fight? I'll fight Shavkat. Let's do it. Let's make it happen."

In Stephen Thompson's eyes, victory over Rakhmonov could very well pave the way to another shot at the welterweight title. With a mixture of determination, optimism, and perhaps a touch of justified impatience, Thompson eagerly awaits UFC 296, fully aware that he's not just fighting for victory but also for the recognition he believes he deserves.


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