The three-time BodogFIGHT welterweight champion and UFC veteran today told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) that diminishing returns have prompted his decision to call it quits on his eight-year career.
Thompson now will focus more on his day job as a lawyer while spending more time with family.
Thompson (38-14-1) suffered a fourth consecutive defeat this past Saturday at Bellator 40 in a non-title fight with Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren. In a three-round grapplefest, the former NCAA wrestling champ Askren controlled Thompson at every turn and won a unanimous decision.
In an interview with MMAjunkie.com this past Friday, “The Goat” was candid about the state of his career and admitted he was on the “downslope” of his pro-fighting run. It turns out that career was riding on the outcome against Askren.
“Until the last 20 seconds, I was fighting scared to lose,” he said. “I don’t know if that’s something you can get over, and I think it’s something that’s going to prevent me from ever fighting at the top level again. I just don’t want to do that anymore.”
Thompson acknowledged a 2008 loss to former EliteXC champion and current UFC contender Jake Shields began his professional decline.
“I trained so hard for that, as I did every fight before that,” he said. “And then to lose in a minute, it was much harder thereafter to get up the drive to give up all the things you have to give up in order to succeed. To skip all the meals and do all the extra training that I used to do, it became a lot harder because it was like, ‘Why, if I can lose in a minute?’
“I thought, ‘I’m not going out without having trained my hardest.’ So I trained as hard as I could for [Askren]. I think despite that, I found myself fighting not to lose, and that’s something I didn’t do when I was younger. Against (Eddie) Alvarez and guys like that, I knew they were good fighters, and I realized they could beat me. But I wasn’t scared to lose.”
The 29-year-old Minnesotan peaked with a victory over Alvarez in April 2007 that earned him the first-ever BodogFIGHT welterweight championship. Following the promotion’s collapse in early 2008, Thompson quickly resumed his career overseas with the newly formed World Victory Road, which promoted the now-ailing Sengoku event series. He picked up two wins before falling short to Shields.
But the welterweight veteran said he struggled to maintain momentum after winning the title.
“Once all of a sudden I became champion and was the favorite to win, I’ve struggled with that transition from being the underdog,” Thompson said. “That’s something that really motivated me to all of a sudden being somebody that everybody knew. There’s plenty of champions that may have been able to make that transition, but for me, it was very tough.”
Still, there were bright spots in his pro career. Prior to his four-fight slide, Thompson defeated recent Strikeforce welterweight challenger Paul Daley in Maximum Fighting Championships.
With a life in the cage now behind him, Thompson hopes to pass on the lessons he’s learned to a stable of fighters he manages.
“One of the things I’d really like to impart is that the sport is so short,” he said. “I’m only 29 years old, and it probably passed me up a year ago. It’s something you really have to enjoy the time you’re in. It seems not long ago that I was going out to the MGM (Grand Garden Arena) with the UFC or fighting in Russia. Those are moments you need to embrace and remember because they don’t come around very often.”
In the meantime, he’s got some catching up to do on the home front.
“I’m going to spend time with my family and for once be able to make pancakes and eat with my daughter without thinking about how much I’m going to have to run because I ate pancakes with my daughter,” Thompson said.