The last thing Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson was thinking of doing when he walked to the Octagon to fight Dan Stittgen at UFC 143 was doing something spectacular.

He woke up as a nervous young man on the morning of his UFC debut on Feb. 4. He'd been competing – and winning – since he was just 3, but he was now 29 and at the pinnacle of his career.

The realization of what lay ahead had hit him. He was 62-0 in his fighting career, but fighting in the UFC was, well, different.

"I was very nervous at breakfast," he says now, chuckling at the thought. "There was a lot of hype around me and so many people were wanting to see me do well and were expecting a lot from me. There was also an internal sense that I wanted to do well, not just for me but for [UFC president] Dana White, [UFC matchmaker] Joe Silva and all those guys who had faith in me and gave me a chance."

As he walked to the cage, he thought about letting the fight unfold naturally and not trying to force things.

Just as a baseball player will say it's hardest to hit a home run when you're trying to do so, a fighter will tell you it's difficult to score a knockout when you're looking for it all the time and loading up on every shot.

"I didn't want to force things and try to do something spectacular," Thompson said. "When you try to do something spectacular, it never happens."

So Thompson decided to just go out and follow his game plan against Stittgen. As the fight unfolded, he was doing extremely well, landing a punch here and a kick there that, while not necessarily doing a lot of damage, were scoring points.

He settled into a comfortable groove when, all of a sudden, the spectacular came out of nowhere.

He threw a jab and then a right hand behind it. He let the right hand hang out there a bit longer than normal. Often, that can be dangerous, but Thompson followed the right with a roundhouse kick to the head.

Stittgen was out upon impact and the fans in the arena roared their approval at one of the most spectacular head-kick knockouts in UFC history.

To make it even better, Thompson didn't realize he had exploited Stittgen's weakness.

"To be honest with you, I didn't see the opening," Thompson said. "What a lot of people who don't know the fight game don't understand is that it's your coaches, and what they see outside the cage, that has a lot to do with how you perform. My Dad [Ray] might see something I don't see and you have to practice while you're up in the cage listening to your coaches. A lot of times, fighters have a hard time doing that.

"My Dad saw the opening. Every time my opponent threw a jab, he'd drop his right hand. My Dad saw that and he began to yell to me, 'Show me the money! Show me that money!' It's a very basic technique we call 'The Money Maker.' "

Thompson followed orders and the money soon followed. He earned a $65,000 bonus for Knockout of the Night, but he also got a return engagement in the UFC fairly quickly.

Matt Brown, who fought later on the card, knocked out Chris Cope in 79 seconds. He pleaded with White, Silva and UFC chairman Lorenzo Fertitta for the Knockout of the Night bonus. When they ignored Brown's pleas and opted to go with Thompson, Brown asked to fight Thompson.

On Monday, Thompson got an unexpected phone call from Silva.

"He was calling to offer me a fight with Matt Brown," Thompson said. "Of course I said 'yes.' "

And now, the pressure will ratchet up a little against Brown, a veteran with 24 MMA fights.

If meeting a guy with four times as much MMA experience didn't put enough pressure on him, his buddy, UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre, unintentionally added a bit more.

In a video he did with the UFC, St. Pierre said Thompson is championship material and raved about his striking.

"Wonderboy is the best striker I've seen in my life," St. Pierre told the UFC camera crew. "And he will have a lot of success in the UFC."

St. Pierre may be right and Thompson may go on to unprecedented heights in the UFC. But it's hard to imagine he'll do anything more spectacular than he did in the first round of his first UFC fight.

That head kick-knockout of Stittgen is one that will be on UFC highlight reels forever.

"It's nice to get something like that, but you know what, you're only as good as your last fight," he said. "It's nice to make my debut like that, but now, all that matters is how I fight against Matt Brown."

True enough. Nobody who ever saw it, though, will forget that moment when Thompson separated Stittgen from his senses.

Other popular content on the Yahoo! network:
Latest fighter to test positive for PEDs could force UFC to step up testing
Kentucky fan offers up wife to top basketball recruit Nerlens Noel
Shine: UK bans 'pornographic and exploitative' American Apparel ad

view original article >>
Report here if this news is invalid.

Related News

Ronda Rousey: 'I Have a Much Bigger Point to Make This Time' (UFC 207 Video) | MMAWeekly.com

  • 26 days ago
  • 24 views

Ronda Rousey returns at UFC 207 against Amanda Nunes with an unbreakable hope to reach the level she was at before her loss to Holly Holm at UFC 193. read news >>

Dana White Comments on Brock Lesnar's Future with UFC

  • 26 days ago
  • 49 views

The UFC suspended Brock Lesnar for one year and fined him $250,000 after it was revealed he failed two drug tests prior to his win over Mark Hunt at UFC 200. It appears his time in the Octagon may be read news >>

MMAjunkie Radio (1 p.m. ET): UFC 207's T.J. Dillashaw and Marvin Vettori

  • 26 days ago
  • 4 views

MMAjunkie Radio kicks off at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) with guests T.J. Dillashaw and Marvin Vettori.Filed under: News, UFC read news >>

Amanda Nunes vs. Ronda Rousey at UFC 207: The Complete Breakdown

  • 26 days ago
  • 17 views

More than 13 months after suffering the first loss of her career, former bantamweight queenpin Ronda Rousey returns to action against current champion Amanda Nunes with the belt on the line. It's not read news >>

Dana White not expecting another comeback by ex-UFC champ Brock Lesnar

  • 26 days ago
  • 13 views

Never say never, but it appears Brock Lesnar’s career as a UFC fighter could be over once and for all.Filed under: News, UFC read news >>

Brock Lesnar Back to the UFC? Dana White Doesn't Think So | MMAWeekly.com

  • 26 days ago
  • 32 views

UFC president Dana White won't ever slam the door, but said that he doesn't think Brock Lesnar will return to MMA following his suspension. read news >>

How did UFC champ Dominick Cruz roar back from injuries? First, he had to admit he might be done

  • 26 days ago
  • 16 views

Dominick Cruz used to think that he couldn’t even let himself think that injuries might derail his career. Then he grew up and learned to stop lying to himself, which has made him a better fighter an read news >>

UFC 207's Ronda Rousey: 'I hear so many of the worst things anyone could ever even imagine'

  • 26 days ago
  • 36 views

Time out of the spotlight hasn’t left former UFC champ Ronda Rousey immune from criticism. “I hear so many of the worst things anyone could ever even imagine to say about me every single day,” she sa read news >>

Amanda Nunes: 'I'm More Than Ready to Fight Ronda Rousey' (UFC 207 Video) | MMAWeekly.com

  • 26 days ago
  • 10 views

Amanda Nunes is preparing for the biggest fight of her life in her first title defense as she takes on the former champion Ronda Rousey at UFC 207. read news >>

The Question: Is Ronda Rousey's UFC 207 Media Blackout a Big Deal?

  • 26 days ago
  • 7 views

A year after being knocked out and mostly vanishing from public view, Ronda Rousey is set to reappear Friday night at UFC 207. The rest of the week, though? Well, Rousey has apparently struck a deal read news >>