Heading into his scheduled fight against Ian Stephens at XFC 25 on Friday, former UFC and Bellator welterweight Ryan “The Tank Engine” Thomas had experienced opponents dropping out of fights, but hadn’t quite been anticipating what was going to happen the week before this fight.
“I was supposed to fight Ian Stephens and from what I heard, he supposedly told the XFC that he signed a UFC contract and wouldn’t be fighting me,” said Thomas. “Then (XFC president John) Prisco told me that he got a hold of the UFC to tell them that Stephens is under contract with them to fight me, and from what I heard, the UFC doesn’t even know who Ian Stephens is.
“I don’t know what the deal is. I don’t know if he’s scared, has cold feet, or if he just tried to find a really stupid way to get out of the fight. I’m just trying to keep myself prepared to fight him or somebody else.”
As it turns out, he’ll be fighting somebody else on Friday night. Stephens isn’t fighting, for whatever reason, and Rocky France has stepped in to take his place. The bout is now a rematch of Thomas’ last fight.
It makes no difference to Thomas, he just wants to fight, so he can display the results of all the effort he put into training for Stephens.
“I’ve been working a lot guys like Jason High and Hector Lombard, and Hector is big. I’ve been doing good against Hector, which is saying something. (Nobody) is going to punch anywhere near as hard as Hector punches.”
It’s that kind of work that Thomas has been receiving at the American Top Team that he credits for his current winning streak.
“I’ve been here long enough to where I’ve had the time to make big changes,” he said. “My striking, my wrestling, my jiu-jitsu; I’ve gotten better in all aspects. It just takes some time to switch things up and make adjustments to the better coaching and training partners.
“It’s all paying off. I’ve won four in a row and I’m looking to make it five.”
Regardless of the opponent on Friday night, a win will put Thomas one step closer to his goal of becoming a two-promotion champion by the end of 2013.
“I’d love to fight in September and again in December and obviously win both of them and have another title before the year is over,” he said. “I won a title for Coliseum Combat on June 1, and I’d love to put two titles around my waist by the end of the year.
“It’d be a big accomplishment to get titles in Coliseum Combat and XFC for me.”