Michael 'The Count' Bisping, Dan 'The Outlaw' Hardy and Brad 'One Punch' Pickett. For any British fans of the increasingly popular sport of mixed martial arts, these names should stand out as some of the finest competitors that the British Isles has produced over the years. Though one name they may not be familiar with is that of heavyweight brawler James 'The Colossus' Thompson.
To call Thompson's career in MMA eventful would be a massive understatement. Over the years he has fought world wide, from Bristol to Japan, taking on some of the sports top names and battling a massive amount of controversy and criticism along the way. But despite a career spanning almost ten years, including 18 wins, 10 coming by way of knockout, Thompson is still somewhat of an unknown in the legacy of British MMA, even though, arguably he is the one of countries first real ambassadors for the sport. This article should shed some light on to the madness that is James Thompson.
Born in 1978 in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, Thompson's career in mixed martial arts began the same as many others. After gaining an interest in bodybuilding, wrestling and boxing he decided to transfer these skills to the cage. After making his debut with a first round submission in 2003, Thompson went on to gather an impressive 6 – 1 record, including a decision victory over UFC hall of famer Dan Severn. This win marked Thompson's transition to the big leagues.
Back in the early 2000's the Ultimate Fighting Championship was still desperately trying to solidify it's relevance as a sporting promotion, in part due to it's fierce rivalry with the massively popular Japanese promotion Pride Fighting Championships. In Pride, rounds were longer, kicks to grounded opponents were legal and each events opening ceremony could put Danny Boyle's attempt to shame. It was here that James Thompson made his first televised appearance.
Thompson was the first British fighter in the promotions history and was matched up against stoic Russian Aleksander Emelianenko. Thompson entered the ring like a man possessed, fixing Emelianenko with a stare down that would have the Klitschkos shitting themselves. The stage was set and the bell was rung, Thompson dashed at Emelianenko like a rabid animal, flooring him immediately. But within 11 seconds everything was over, with 'The Colossus' finding himself on the wrong end of a knockout left hook. This fight soon found itself being virally spread on the internet, with the title 'When Trying To Look Tough Goes Wrong' with Thompson's pre-fight posturing and stare down the source of ridicule. The video has had over eight million views.
After his stint in Pride, Thompson was on a two fight losing streak when, in 2008, he was matched up against youtube bare knuckle sensation Kimbo Slice in the now defunct American promotion EliteXC. Trying to capitalise on Slice's online fame, the struggling promotion was desperately trying to gather marketable talent to rival promotions like the UFC. As a result they force fed unknown and ageing fighters to Slice, which he managed to punch out quickly. The same result was expected for Thompson. Though it was a miracle he was cleared to fight at all. Cauliflower ear is a common injury in any combat sport, but the ear that James Thompson was sporting on his walk to the cage looked more like he was growing a third bollock from the lobe. It was this bizarre injury that would be his downfall.
As the fight began Slice, as ever, had the advantage on the feet, but Thompson demonstrated his more impressive skill set by taking Slice down and dominating him with strikes on the ground, prompting several people to believe that Thompson had won. Despite this, the referee refused to stop the fight. Early in the third, Slice landed several unanswered shots on Thompson, one of which popped Thompson's cauliflower ear, spraying blood everywhere. It was at this point that the referee intervened, despite Thompson's and the announcers protests, with Slice being crowned the winner. A great deal of controversy has risen since that fight, with many MMA news sources speculating that the match was rigged and that the ref was told to call the fight in Slice's favour. A conspiracy that Thompson agrees with.
Things would not improve for Thompson as far as shady promotions were concerned. In 2011 he was booked for a rematch against Mariusz Pudzianowski in Polish promotion KSW. Thompson had defeated Pudzianowski months before via submission, though this time round the fight went to the judges. Despite being dominated by Thompson throughout the fight, the judges controversially awarded the fight to the polish heavyweight. Thompson then proceeded to snatch the announcers microphone and began ranting so profanely about the legitimacy of the promotion that the events organisers looked like they were seconds away from playing dead and soiling themselves to stave off an impending attack. Days later the match result was changed to a 'No Contest' due to a 'Judging Error' or more aptly 'A 6'5 Manc juggernaut was about to tear off my legs and kick my teeth out with them'. Thompson has not fought for KSW since.
So what does the future hold for James Thompson? At this point it is hard to tell. Having not fought since 2012, with a close decision victory over former WWE star Bobby Lashley, Thompson now spends most of his days rambling incomprehensibly to a camera, uploading videos to his youtube channel 'ColossalCollective'. These, so far, include him calling out mouthy boxer Tyron Fury as well a frank verbal response to the aforementioned 'When Trying To Look Tough Goes Wrong' video. These videos seem to be gathering Thompson a growing fan base, and perhaps if he can back up the hype in the cage, 2013 could well see the triumphant return of 'The Colossus', provided he doesn't bring another ear bollock with him.