If you thought Oli Thompson was your average UFC heavyweight, you thought wrong. Thompson, who holds a professional record of 9-3, was nowhere near strapping on gloves and competing in MMA just a few years ago. Instead, he was preparing to be declared the World’s Strongest Man.
It was a passion of Thompson’s since the very beginning of his days, to be labeled as the best in the world. A passion that would lead him to being crowned Britain’s Strongest Man in 2006. Thompson would also move on to qualify for the World’s Strongest Man Competition in 2008, despite never placing.
After representing his home country of England as one of the strongest men on the planet, Thompson developed a passion in something else. A passion that would lead him into a cage, where he would once again begin the fight to become the best in the world. It wasn’t an easy decision for the current UFC heavyweight, but it was one that was worth it.
“It was hard to give up the Strongest Man competitions,” admitted Thompson in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner. “After the World’s Strongest Man Competition in 2008, I decided that I needed a change. I wanted the chance to show off my different athletic abilities. I began grappling, which progressed to fighting. It was a snowball effect from there.”
The time came for Thompson to showcase that he was more than capable of competing with the best in the world as he stood across the Octagon from former LSU standout Shawn Jordan at UFC on FX: Alves vs. Kampmann. Thompson was riding a five-fight winning streak which would eventually come to a screeching halt in the second round of action.
Thompson suffered the third loss of his career as he was finished via TKO in the foreign lands of Australia. However, unlike many professional fighters, Thompson was able to pinpoint the positive despite falling short when it mattered the most.
“Looking back on that fight, I was pleased with some aspects of my game. I don’t take losing very well at all, but that loss wasn’t too difficult to overcome,” admitted Thompson.
“If I had to go back and change anything, I would have changed up my strategy. I didn’t know too much about Shawn heading into the fight and felt he would want to grapple more than he did. He did a great job controlling the fight, and by the time I had adjusted, it was already too late.”
Thompson will get the chance to capture the first Octagon victory of his career when he meets Phil De Fries at UFC on Fox 4 when the UFC travels to Los Angeles on Aug. 4. The Englishman will once again be put to the test and this time, he’s looking to make his home country proud.
“De Fries is a good fighter. He has a very specific skill-set and anything outside of that is an opportunity for me. I know he’s a grappler, but so am I. I want to get this to the ground and look for the submission victory,” admitted Thompson. “If I had to predict, I would say I will submit him in the second round.”
“I’m not going into this fight trying to make a statement. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that you can’t silence the critics, that’s why they are critics. I don’t fight to make those people happy, because you can’t please all the critics.”
“I am happy with where I am at now and will continue to impress my genuine fans.”
Top Photo: Oli Thompson (Tom Slezakowski/WWBRD.com)