MMA

MMA Takeaways: Thompson proves he still belongs

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But you can only beat the fighters who are put in front of you, and that’s exactly what Thompson did on Saturday. The way he did it showed he’s still got lots left in the tank.

The UFC is better when rays of positivity like Thompson are allowed to shine through, so Thompson’s win in the final fight of 2020 was a little gift at the end of a tough year.

Here are five other takeaways from Saturday’s fights:

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 Handout /Zuffa LLC

Thompson is ranked No. 5 in the welterweight division and looked great beating another top-10 fighter on Saturday night.

It should be easy to find him an opponent for his next fight, right?

Nope.

Looking at the fighters ranked in front of Thompson, I’ve got no idea who to pair him with next.

Kamaru Usman, the champion, is supposed to fight No. 2-ranked Gilbert Burns at some point early next year.

Leon Edwards, ranked No. 3, is supposed to take on the wildly-unproven but highly-hyped Khamzat Chimaev.

No. 1 contender Colby Covington is unbooked but it’s widely rumoured that he’ll be matched against No. 4 Jorge Masvidal. The two supposedly hate each other, although maybe they’ve reconciled over their beloved Donald Trump getting obliterated in the presidential election.

Either way, there’s no obvious candidate for Thompson. His best bet is probably just to stay ready and be willing to step in on short notice.

Speaking of guys who many thought were a little washed-up but stepped up in a big way on Saturday, let’s talk about Jose Aldo.

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