A UFC Champion Sparred With a Bodybuilder and a Black BeltApril 10, 2021
UFC champion Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson regularly teams up with fellow athletes and YouTubers on his channel to keep his training fun. In one such video, he invites bodybuilder Houston Jones and karate black belt Sensei Seth to his gym for some sparring.
Given that Thompson spends a lot of his time sparring, they decide to make the experience more interesting by introducing a random array of restrictions for each round. For instance, in the first round, Thompson can only use spinning attacks, and Jones can only move forwards. When Seth taps in, he can only move backwards.
In round two, Jones is banned from punching—which isn’t a huge limitation for him, as a Taekwondo practitioner—while Thompson’s moves are limited to only defense, and Seth has to move at half-speed. “This is a great way to, number one, work on your defense,” he says. “Helps with your movement, helps with your blocking. If you’re more of a boxer and you don’t throw a lot of kicks, greay way to get used to it.”
After that, they bring in Thompson’s pal Sweet T to even out the numbers and compete in teams. “That keeps you on your toes,” says Thompson, before the final round of sparring: an all-out, “everybody vs. everybody” chaotic battle royale. For this epic showdown, each fighter has a restriction: Thompson can only use jumping attacks, Seth can only punch, Sweet T has to announce each of his strikes as he throws them, and Jones has to double up on each strike.
“When you’re doing stuff like this, it kind of forces you to put you out of your comfort zone,” says Thompson. “You don’t really know who you’re fighting when you get out there, what kind of progression they’ve made, if they’ve changed their style up or not, so the variety of people that you have sparring helps you get better at stuff you normally don’t do.”
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