By Damon Martin, MMAWeekly
The welterweight division in the UFC is quick becoming the toughest weight class in the entire organization. With names like Georges St. Pierre, Sean Sherk and Diego Sanchez, not to mention possibly the most dominant champion in UFC history, Matt Hughes, the competition is stiff and making a name is not easy to do with that list of possible opponents.
But MMA veteran Nick “The Goat” Thompson is looking to make waves when he debuts at UFC 56 in Las Vegas against Keith Wisniewski. Thompson sat down for an interview with MMAWeekly to talk about his upcoming fight and how he really feels about “Ultimate Fighter” winner, Diego Sanchez.
MMAWeekly: Tell fans that aren’t familiar with Nick Thompson a little bit about your background, how you got into the sport, etc.
Nick Thompson: I wrestled at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. My second year there, I made some fake IDs for me and some buddies so that we could get into the local pubs. I got arrested for it, it was in the papers and the team decided to cut me. Their decision might have been made easier given that I wasn’t very good and that I often missed the 6 am morning team run. Honestly, who gets up to run at 6 in the morning, outside, in the winter? After getting cut I went and saw one of Dave Strasser’s Freestyle Combat Challenge shows. I went with my girlfriend who I had just started dating and like any other guy who doesn’t know any better, I tried to impress her by telling her I could do that. I started training the next week. I was terrible but I was hooked. Strasser took me under his wing and worked with me for the next two years ,and it took a lot of work, and turned me into a decent fighter. This fall I had to leave Strasser’s Freestyle Academy to go to law school at the University of Minnesota. Now I train at the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy with Sean Sherk. While at Strasser’s I won the XKK 185 lb title, the USKBA super-light heavyweight, whatever the hell that is, title and the FFC 185 lb 2004 tournament. Since joing the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy I’ve won the FFC 170 lb 2005 tournament and beat UFC veteran Josh Neer. I also have big wins over UFC veteran Brian Gassaway, Pride veteran John Renken and ATT’s Marcel Ferreria and Emyr Bussade.
MMAWeekly: What do you think are your greatest strengths when stepping into a fight?
Nick Thompson: I keep coming after you non-stop. You can beat my ass for 14 minutes and 30 seconds and that last 30 seconds of the fight, I am still going to come after you with everything I have. I am not going to break, I am not going to quit and will find a way to win. That, and I am not afraid to check a man’s oil if means getting him into a submission hold.
MMAWeekly: What do you think of your opponent Keith Wisniewski?
Nick Thompson: A lot of what I just said describes Keith as well. You look at him and he is totally unassuming. you watch him fight and you are not wowed by his jitz, he doesn’t lock up 5 punch combos and he doesn’t slam you to the ground with an explosive double. Then you look at who hes beaten, Prater, Berger, and you realize that what he is great at is winning. He is well rounded and uses that to grind on his opponent until he finds a chink in their armor. That’s why I think this is going to be an excellent fight. We are both veterans who are hungry to fight in the UFC. We both like to stand and trade and neither of us are going to quit or break. We are going to go from bell to bell and our corners are going to have to pick us up off the canvas because we both will leave everything out on the canvas. Luckily for me, I have a little more to leave out there.
MMAWeekly: You’ve been pretty vocal on the internet, with sites like MMA.tv…Do you feel the internet is an important avenue to get your name out there so fans will learn more about you?
Nick Thompson: It probably doesn’t hurt. But the real reason I’m on there is because I love fighting. I love to train for it and I love to talk about it. That and I’m in class all day. I can either listen to the professor and study, or talk on MMA.tv and read MMAWeekly. I stand by my choice.
MMAWeekly: You had some harsh words about Diego Sanchez, before and after his fight with Nick Diaz, what are your feelings about Diego?
Nick Thompson: Diego is a tool. For Christ sakes, he had a man perm and a Don Juan mustache for his first UFC fight. That’s funny if he had meant it to be funny but he didn’t. He thought he looked good. He wins a t.v. show and says that he is better than Hughes, St Pierre, Sherk/ What an arrogant ass! And before people start spouting off about me just being jealous, how come you don’t see these things being said about Forrest, Bonnar, or Stevenson? All that being said, I think Diaz is a good fighter and thought Diaz was going to hand Diego his ass. Man did I have that wrong. The tool tooled Diaz. I still think Diego is in trouble against anyone who knows how to sprawl but I wouldn’t want him on top of me. He impressed me and while still a square, I have to admit that he can fight.
MMAWeekly: How do you see yourself stacking up against the competition in the 170lb weight class in the UFC?
Nick Thompson: I think if I have my best day and my opponent has their best day, I would beat anyone at 170 except the top 3. I think Hughes, St Pierre and Sherk
are way ahead of the field and I know have lots of work until I get to their point. When considering where I rank myself though, it must be taken into account that I am full of myself.
MMAWeekly: What does it mean to you to debut and get to fight in the UFC?
Nick Thompson: The best fighters in the world fight here. I think I am one of the best fighters in the world and I am looking forward to proving it. Not to mention, I think after being in the UFC, It will finally be appropriate to speak in the third person. Nick Thompson likes the sounds of that.
MMAWeekly: How is your training going and who do you train with that really pushes you to improve your game?
Nick Thompson: When I first started I trained with Dave Strasser, Nick Agallar and Ron Faircloth. Dave has so much to teach. He is always moving and keeping his opponent off balance. I really wish we had gotten to see him in the UFC when he was 24. Nick is one of the most agressive and explosive fighters I have ever trained with and Ron has more heart than anyone. From these guys I have learned how to be tough and to fight even when your down. Its something that I think a lot of fighters never learn. Now I am training with Sherk. He is a whole different beast. Everything he does is compact and tight. He never leaves an opening. A good day is when I can reguard him. I train Muay Thai with Nat McIntyre. He is a little guy and kicks me in the head a lot. I am not really sure how that really helps me but I know he does it alot so I hope it is doing something beneficial for me. Lastly, I am working with Ishmael Bentley on my jitz. I am learning a whole different style of rolling and if I can combine it with what I learned from Mark Plavcon, I am going to be a dangerous weapon; in fact I may if have to steal Spratt’s nickname.
MMAWeekly: Any final words for the fans who are going to see you fight for the first time…any sponsors you want to thank?
Nick Thompson: Yeah, see you on the 19th. If you are out and Vegas and see me, feel free to stop and shoot the shit with me. I’m an ok guy. Seriously, I have references. People like me. I suppose I had better thank my sponsors as well. Minnesota is cold and they pay the heat. Thanks to TapouT, Full Contact Fighter, Cut Throat, Kuehnl Marketing Incorporated, Johnny Passarlli’s Sports Physical Therapy Rehab, my manager Pat O’Malley and my girlfriend Molly. The last two aren’t really sponsors but they go on the list because Pat is responsible for getting me paid and Molly puts up with my shenanigans.