Top Ranked UK Heavyweight Oli Thompson Sets Sights On An MMA Return Against A Certain Iranian Beast
In recent years free agency has become a coveted part of the sport, especially for those who can leverage themselves a better deal when rival promotions are bidding for their services.
Rory MacDonald recently found himself signing what’s believed to be a far more lucrative contract with Bellator when the UFC failed to match an offer for his services. The UFC’s own Eddie Alvarez secured himself a lucrative deal with the UFC after a protracted, public dispute with Bellator, which ended in an expedited, unconditional release. Needless to say, fighters at the top of the sport can often navigate where their careers are going.
For others who have been at the pinnacle of the sport but don’t command as much compulsory interest as their counterparts, they can sometimes find themselves inactive once free agency hits.
In a 27-fight career that’s spanned almost nine years, Oli Thompson (17-10) has fought for both the UFC and Bellator, along with notable regional organisations such as KSW, BAMMA and IGF, where he’s the incumbent open-weight grand prix winner. In that grand prix Thompson would beat future KSW heavyweight champion, Fernando Rodrigues Jr, to take that accolade.
Oli Thompson’s résumé reads as a fighter who’s competed at the pinnacle of the sport and has been willing to travel the globe to fight all comers. Fights with the aforementioned Rodrigues Jr, Ikuhisa Minowa, Mariusz Pudzianowski, Michal Wlodarek, Shawn Jordan, and most recently against top ranked heavyweights Matt Mitrione and Cheick Kongo.
While the latter two bouts were ultimately unsuccessful, Thompson showed a willingness to leave it out there and gave Mitrione all he could handle for the better part of two rounds, despite taking the fight on only two weeks notice.
The Kongo fight was admittedly bad for Thompson, stating to MMA Today. “I fought Kongo in February. (It was) a disappointing performance that I can only put down to mental fatigue“. That mental fatigue relates to Mitrione pulling out of the Fedor Emelianenko fight on fight day. Thompson was slated as a standby for that fight specifically for such an instance. He was told he’d be fighting Fedor once news broke of Mitrione’s kidney stones. Unfortunately for Thompson, Emelianenko would reject the opportunity to fight, opting to wait for a rebooking with Mitrione. The mental gymnastics involved in such a situation can easily be taken into account as a contributing factor for that loss to Kongo.
Oli Thompson’s Bellator run wouldn’t end there though, although he would rather it had as the ensuing nightmare kept him unnecessarily in limbo for a further six months.
Credit: Anoop Hothi | K1Anoop
In the end Thompson’s time at Bellator was heavily mismanaged by the promotion. They’d kept him on an exclusive contract but had left him inactive for a total of 14 months, only fulfilling two of his contracted four fights.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
With Bellator firmly in his rearview, Thompson has been in ongoing talks with MMA promotions from the continent, including ACB. In the meantime, though, he’s staying active by taking K-1 rules bouts. Most recently he beat Kerone Davis, and on December. 9, he fights former UFC Heavyweight Daniel Omielanczuk (19-8-1) over in Poland at DSF Kickboxing Challenge 12.
Credit: DSF Kickboxing
Thompson’s heart remains with MMA, though, and he’s looking for the opportunity to return to the sport he loves sooner rather then later. “I’m enjoying fighting K-1 at the moment but I’m an MMA fighter and want to get back in (there) as soon as possible.”
TALKING OF OPPORTUNITIES
Thompson is looking for a quick turnaround after his fight with Omielanczuk this Saturday. “I’d be ready to head to Rizin this New Year’s Eve if the fight was right.” And one competitor Thompson has firmly in his cross hairs is former Iranian Olympic wrestler, Amir Aliakbari (7-1).
“I don’t think Aliakbari has beaten anyone my level in his career so far in Rizin. Amir claimed a while back that he didn’t know who I was, but (he) follows me on Twitter, lol. (He’s got) good wrestling, but slow pacing and amateur striking.”
With Thompson being a known commodity in Japan after his impressive 2015 IGF grand prix win, a fight between the two could be made and promoted over the next four weeks to good reception.
Thompson doesn’t have just Rizin on his mind either. “I’m very keen to fight in Asia again. (Other than Rizin), maybe ROAD FC. Mighty Mo, the ROAD champion (I think) I’d destroy to be honest.”
That fight would likely be appealing to Mighty Mo (12-5) and ROAD, who quietly have become a market leader in Asia. Thompson offers a fun stylistic match-up for the former K-1 competitor, and being a former Bellator fighter himself the Californian — by way of Samoa — can likely see the name value a guy like Thompson brings to the table.
Also would love to take over @EFCworldwide in the new year!— Oli Thompson (@olithompson_fit) November 6, 2017
The former strongman is keeping his options open as well, having expressed interest in competing in Russia and South Africa. “Fight Nights Global in Russia also has some good fights possible, at both weights. I’m also available at light heavyweight for the right challenge. I’d even head over to EFC in Africa to get busy again.”
With options like Vitaly Minakov, Sergey Pavlovich, Nikita Krylov, Fabio Maldonado, Andrew Van Zyl, Elvis Moyo, Dalcha Lungiambula or Stuart Austin available, either destination would be a solid choice for the Brit.
With Denis Geyko reporting that a potential Bigfoot Silva versus Fedor rematch is in the works at RCC later in the year I put forward the suggestion of a potential Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva showdown for the reigning IGF champ. Thompson responded enthusiastically. “Yes, Bigfoot would be great!”
In MMA, free agent heavyweights with solid résumés and the name value of Oli Thompson, don’t stay unsigned for too long. Thompson is ready to go whenever they are, so it all depends on which promotion can get a deal done first.