Saturday, 09 April 2011 11:42
(Original photo by MMAWeekly.com)
Amidst the pandemonium of the marquee "Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley" event, you might hear the name "Nick Thompson" as a recurring point of debate in certain discussions.
Paul "Semtex" Daley has cemented a well deserved reputation for violently vanquishing anyone who dares to stand and strike with him. Thompson is being inserted into the main event analysis as an overlooked exception to "The Semtex Rule" for his fairly astounding 2009 defeat of Daley in a fight that took place mostly on the feet.
Even further disregarded is the fact that Thompson is captaining his own main event tonight in Bellator versus welterweight champion Ben Askren in a non-title affair. Askren, a former Olympic wrestler and one of the sport's most successful new crossover fighters, has wisely plugged the holes normally associated with an inexperienced wrestler by training with submission legend Marcelo Garcia and rocketing to brown belt level in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Already holding championship status and enduring the dangerous ground games of more experienced grapplers like Lyman Good and Dan Hornbuckle prove Askren made an intelligent choice.
After back to back losses to eventual UFC competitor Ed Herman and current #1 middleweight contender Yushin Okami, Thompson blazed a blistering 20-1 clip that put him on the fringe of the top-ten welterweight rankings. The impressive run included wins over Josh Neer, Chris Wilson, Eddie Alvarez, and a two-fight UFC stint, in which "The Goat" scored a decision over Keith Wisniewski but fell prey to a prime Karo Parisyan.
This put Thompson into a title bout in EliteXC against another name you might recognize: Jake Shields. The first-round guillotine was one of the fifteen wins that have propelled Shields towards a crack at UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre. Thompson started 2009 with a roar by submitting Travis McCullough in January and out-dueling Daley in February, but went up a weight class to stay busy and tapped to some questionably placed strikes from Tim Kennedy, then suffered a TKO loss to Hornbuckle in Sengoku. That outcome would incur consecutively against Taisuke Okuno in Thompson's only fight in 2010, which was his last appearance leading up to the Askren bout tonight.
In the interview below, Thompson discusses his lengthy career, his advantages over Askren, the affects of focus on a fighter, and his distaste for the new Tapout brand.