Apr 18, 2012

Have You Been “Wondering” About The Newest MMA Sensation?

Image via thetanddcom

The following is a guest post by Jason "Orange Dawg" Helm. As you will see below, Orange Dawg has a unique perspective on this up and coming star in the UFC welterweight division.

This post is going to provide a little background info on the newest rising star in the UFC, Stephen “The Wonderboy” Thompson. Before I go any further, I just wanted to say thank you to Doctor Law and everybody else at It’s MMAzing for allowing me to post about this up and coming fighter.

By way of information about yours truly, I have four black belts in various styles of martial arts. I hold the rank of third degree black belt in Kenpo Karate and a first degree black belt in American Jiu-Jitsu. I studied martial arts at Upstate Karate in Simpsonville, SC. This just happens to be the same studio that has produced the Wonderboy. His father, Ray Thompson is the owner and founder of Upstate Karate. I grew up training with Stephen and followed his amateur kickboxing career with great interest. After all, it’s not every day that someone who used to kick my ass on a weekly basis was taking the kickboxing world by storm.

Wonderboy got his first black belt a couple of years before I did and I can tell you first hand that even the adults who studied under Ray Thompson did not want to spar with Stephen because even at ten years old he would whoop the sh*t out of them. As I advanced further up the ranks in my training, I was forced to train with Stephen more and more and every time I had to spar with him, I came home with fresh bruises that would take days to heal. You see, Karate was his life. He was born for it and excelled in every aspect of his training. His father was a world champion in his youth and was so talented that other instructors throughout South Carolina would no longer fight him in competition. Stephen embraced this heritage and longed to one day be better than his father.

When I got my black belt, we had to choose a partner who would help test us during the trials. The black belt exam at Upstate Karate used to take a week, with every candidate being tested on a certain aspect every day. For example, Mondays used to be combinations, punching and kicking, etc. Tuesdays used to be katta days. Thursdays were always the sparring days. My best friend at the time, Bobby Schmidt, had picked Stephen to be the one to test with him all week and Stephen did his job better than most. During the sparing day, Stephen broke my friend’s nose, almost causing him to fail his exam. That was just the type of fighter Wonderboy was. There was no quit and no taking it easy. He made you prove yourself every time you stepped into the ring with him. During that same exam, I was rotated in front of Stephen and ended up with a black eye for my trouble. He was the best and it seems that that has not changed all these years later.

Image via thebiglead.com
Stephen was introduced to MMA through various connections. First off, his older sister, Lindsey is married to Carlos Machado, who inconsequently has been training Wonderboy in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. But be that as it may, Stephen lives for striking. His kickboxing success brought him to the attention of Georges St-Pierre. When GSP was training for a fight, he brought Stephen in to train him and GSP said that the Wonderboy did his job “a little too well.” Translation: Wonderboy kicked GSP’s ass during training. GSP even went as far as to say that “Wonderboy is the best striker I’ve seen in my life.”

His kickboxing career ended with a 56-0 record, with over 40 of those victories coming by way of KO. He has compiled a 6-0 MMA record and I’ll be damned if he didn’t turn some heads during his UFC debut. Some of you out there may have seen his debut at UFC 143, but judging by the people in the audience at the time of his fight and the fact that it was only shown on Facebook, you probably didn’t. Well with about 2 minutes to go in the first round he caught Dan Stittgen with a round kick directly to the cheek that sent Stittgen to the mat hard. This kick would go on to give Wonderboy a $65,000 bonus for achieving Knockout of the Night. It also led to his fight this Saturday. You see his opponent, Matt Brown, was begging to get KO of the Night and when it was awarded to Wonderboy, it pissed him off. Matt Brown then asked for, and was given, a matchup with the Wonderboy. I hope he is ready because he is getting exactly what he asked for and in the end, he may not like it.

Win, lose, or draw, this Saturday, Wonderboy will still turn some heads at UFC 145 in Atlanta. The way I see it, the sky is limit for the Wonderboy and the UFC will be changed for the better because of it.

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