UFC's Stephen Thompson to visit PH in February

MANILA, Philippines – Another fast-rising Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) sensation will be visiting the country as American fighter Stephen Thompson is scheduled to set foot on Philippine soil this month.

In partnership with TV5’s Cignal Digital TV and sports channel Hyper, the world’s premier mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion is bringing Thompson to the Philippines for a meet-and-greet session and public workout on February 25 at the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City. 

The UFC has been locally airing its fight cards and other sideshows on Hyper since January after the Manuel V. Pangilinan-bankrolled TV5 acquired the broadcast rights of the UFC from ABS-CBN Sports.

Hyper, which is one of the two broadcast partners of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) on cable television along with FOX Sports, airs on Channel 53 of Cignal Digital TV. 

Known by the moniker "Wonder Boy," Thompson will arrive from the United States on February 22 and is booked to host a media conference at Resorts World Manila in Pasay City. 

Thompson (12-1) is a 33-year-old full-contact kickboxer from Simpsonville, South Carolina, who successfully transitioned to MMA in February 2010 by stopping Jeremy Joles in the second round under the Greenville Kage Fighting banner.

After 4 bouts since his MMA debut, he made his first Octagon appearance in February 2012, knocking out Daniel Stittgen with a head kick in the first round.

However, Thompson's follow-up UFC outing blemished his previously-immaculate record as he was outpointed by veteran Matt Brown via unanimous decision. 

Since his disappointing defeat at the hands of Brown, Thompson piled up 6 straight victories, picking up impressive wins over the likes of Chris Clements, Robert Whittaker, and Jake Ellenberger. 

Currently rated as No. 3 in the 170-pound weight class' rankings, Thompson solidified his position in the division by thumping former UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks by first-round technical knockout. 

The UFC has brought several marquee figures to the Philippines in recent years, including Chuck Liddell, Georges St-Pierre, BJ Penn, Mark Muñoz, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Alexander Gustafsson, Cung Le, Urijah Faber, and Carlos Condit. 

Faber spearheaded a string of seminars, community outreaches, and mall tours during the summer of 2014, while Condit had an open training session at the Trinoma Activity Center in Quezon City in November 2014.

The UFC also held its first live event in the Philippines in May 2015 at 20,000-seater SM Mall of Asia Arena, which featured Muñoz's farewell bout and the featherweight super-fight between Frankie Edgar and Faber.

With the solid debut at the box office and an energetic crowd, UFC executive Kenneth Berger told Rappler that the organization is likely to make a return to the Philippines.

 – Rappler.com