On Saturday night, the UFC held a Fight Night event from the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. The card was headlined by a welterweight bout as two of the division’s more skillful strikers, Kevin Holland and Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson faced off. Holland moved down to the welterweight division earlier this year, where he picked up stoppage wins over Alex Oliveira and Tim Means, before losing to Khamzat Chimaev on extremely short notice. Thompson, now 39 years of age, is coming into this fight following losses to Belal Muhammad and Gilbert Burns, who were both able to utilize their wrestling ability to get the better of Thompson. Despite these recent losses, Thompson is still the sixth-ranked fighter in the welterweight division, and a victory over Thompson would do wonders for Holland, who was unranked going into this fight. In the co-main event, former UFC Lightweight Champion, Rafael dos Anjos, moved back up to welterweight to face Bryan Barberena, who was coming off exciting wins against Matt Brown and Robbie Lawler.
Jon Anik provided commentary for this card alongside Michael Bisping and Daniel Cormier. Performance of the Night bonuses were awarded to Roman Dolidze and Sergei Pavlovich. Fight of the Night bonuses went out to Stephen Thompson and Kevin Holland.
- Yazmin Jauregui def. Istela Nunes by TKO at 4:06 of Round 2
- Francis Marshall def. Marcelo Rojo by KO at 1:14 of Round 2
- Natan Levy def. Genaro Valdez by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
- Jonathan Pearce def. Darren Elkins by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
- Michael Johnson def. Marc Diakiese by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
- Clay Guida def. Scott Holtzman by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
- Angela Hill def. Emily Ducote by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
- Phil Rowe def. Niko Price by TKO at 3:26 of Round 3
- Eryk Anders def. Kyle Daukaus by TKO at 2:45 of Round 2
- Roman Dolidze def. Jack Hermansson by TKO at 4:06 of Round 2
- Sergei Pavlovich def. Tai Tuivasa by TKO at 0:54 of Round 1
- Matheus Nicolau def. Matt Schnell by KO at 1:44 of Round 2
- Rafael dos Anjos def. Bryan Barberena by rear naked choke at 3:20 of Round 2
- Stephen Thompson def. Kevin Holland by TKO at 5:00 of Round 4
YAZMIN JAUREGUI (9-0, 115.5) VS ISTELA NUNES (6-3, 1 NC, 114.5) – STRAWWEIGHT
Jauregui pressured forward to begin the fight but walked right into a massive right hand from Nunes that dropped her hard. Jauregui was quickly able to recover but was fighting more conservatively following the early knockdown. While Jauregui continued to be the aggressor, it was Nunes who was landing the stronger shots from the back foot, countering strongly. Towards the end of the round, Jauregui really began to go back on the attack again, landing strong strikes as Nunes attempted to retreat, but the knockdown was likely the difference maker on the scorecards.
Early in the second round, Jauregui was able to knock Nunes down with what appeared to be a straight right hand. Nunes recovered momentarily, but Jauregui knocked her down again moments later, and this time, Jauregui followed her down to the ground, where she began to work from her opponent’s guard. Jauregui landed strong hammerfists, before posturing up and delivering brutal ground and pound blows until the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Yazmin Jauregui by TKO at 4:06 of Round 2
Jauregui’s early aggression nearly led to Nunes securing the early finish with her counter right hand, but as the fight progressed, Jauregui’s constant pressure seemed to chip away at Nunes’s gas tank, and eventually, her attack overwhelmed Nunes. It was certainly an entertaining bout to start the night, and Jauregui actually became just the second UFC strawweight fighter to secure two knockdowns in a single fight there. Jauregui is now 2-0 in the UFC, and this marked her seventh career KO/TKO stoppage.
MARCELO ROJO (16-8, 145) VS FRANCIS MARSHALL (6-0, 145) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Rojo was getting creative with his striking in the early minutes of the bout, attempting to catch Marshall with lead elbows. A right hand from Marshall eventually found its target, and it sat Rojo down against the cage. Rojo recovered quickly but was taken down by Marshall with roughly two minutes to work. Marshall landed a number of knees to the body, but Rojo actually responded with some awkward elbows that seemed to be doing a decent amount of damage.
An accidental low blow from Rojo brought a momentary pause to the action in the opening minute of round two, as Marshall was given time to recover. Moments after the action resumed, Marshall dropped Rojo hard with a short right hand, and he immediately finished the fight with ground and pound.
WINNER: Francis Marshall by KO at 1:14 of Round 2
Marshall showcased some legitimate power in his hands here, dropping Rojo twice throughout the short duration of this fight. This was Marshall’s first fight in the UFC, and all of his previous stoppage wins have come by submission, so to pick up a highlight reel knockout like this in his UFC debut was quite the statement regarding his overall abilities as a mixed martial artist. Marshall is now 7-0 professionally, and this was about as solid of a promotional debut as you’ll see.
NATAN LEVY (7-1, 156) VS GENARO VALDEZ (10-1, 156) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Levy controlled the range with his kicks throughout the first round, while Valdez would counter whenever Levy closed the distance and walked into Valdez’s range. Levy dropped Valdez twice towards the end of the round, first with a right hook, and then with a hook kick, and he began to swarm Valdez as he attempted to end the round, focusing his attack on the body. Valdez was able to survive Levy’s flurry, but this was a very clear round for Levy. 10-9 Levy.
Valdez was fighting with urgency in the second round, clearly looking to make up ground after ending the previous round in a rough spot. Valdez seemed to have Levy in a spot of trouble after catching him multiple times throughout an extended flurry of strikes, however, Levy was able to slow the pace of the fight, and they began to wrestle against the cage. Levy took Valdez to the ground, where he could maintain top position for the remainder of the round. 19-19.
Valdez continued to pour on the pressure in round three, until a kick from Levy landed low, sending Valdez to the ground in pain as he was given time to recover. The fighters traded hands as the fight resumed before Levy shot for an unsuccessful takedown. Despite not initially being able to take Valdez to the ground, Levy stuck with the grappling, and he eventually took Valdez down near the cage, where he was able to keep him wrapped up until time expired in the fight. 29-28 Levy.
WINNER: Natan Levy by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Levy looked phenomenal in the first round of this fight. He managed the distance well and dropped Valdez twice before he began to attack the body to great success. Levy seemed to slow down by the second round but was still able to utilize his grappling advantage to keep Valdez from overwhelming him on the feet. It was largely a strong performance from Levy, who is now 2-1 in the UFC following this win.
DARREN ELKINS (27-10, 145) VS JONATHAN PEARCE (13-4, 146) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Pearce began the fight with a trio of front kicks before Elkins took him to the ground. Pearce quickly worked his way back to his feet, and Elkins was bleeding from the nose, likely from one of Pearce’s earlier front kicks. Pearce continued to throw front kicks and knees up the middle, while Elkins attempted to catch him with wilder looping hooks. A big right hand from Pearce seemed to rock Elkins, and while Elkins remained in the fight, he looked as though he was in rough shape, moving slowly while missing wildly on some of his strike attempts. Pearce took Elkins down late in the round, and he threw down hard ground and pound shots until time expired. 10-9 Pearce.
Elkins was finding a bit more success early in the second round but was still taking a ton of damage from Pearce as well. At one point, Pearce slipped and Elkins dragged him to the ground, but his positioning was off, and Pearce forced him to give up his position with a number of elbows. Pearce took top position, where he began to throw hard ground and pound shots down at Elkins, who was unable to escape from under Pearce. This was another strong round for Pearce. 20-18 Pearce.
Pearce took Elkins back to the round in the third round, and an elbow really busted Elkins open, to the point that the doctor was brought in to check on him. It was determined that Elkins could continue despite the cut, but referee Dan Miragliotta forgot to return the fighters to the ground, and the fight resumed on the feet. Pearce continued to pick Elkins apart on the feet until the final horn sounded. 30-27 Pearce.
WINNER: Jonathan Pearce by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
This was about as brutal and bloody of a fight as you’d expect from any Darren Elkins bout. As usual, Elkins took a concerning amount of damage in this fight, but he was able to go the distance with Pearce here and did his best to make the fight competitive with the bombs he was throwing Pearce’s way on the feet, as he attempted to pull off one more dramatic comeback. It was not to be, however, and Pearce secured the clear decision victory in the end. Pearce is now 5-1 in the UFC, with that one loss coming in his first fight in the promotion, a weight class up against Joe Lauzon.
MICHAEL JOHNSON (20-18, 156) VS MARC DIAKIESE (16-5, 155.5) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Johnson and Diakiese met in the middle of the octagon and stared each other down during the fighter introductions. Diakiese shot for an early takedown, but Johnson defended the attempt and kept the fight on the feet. Diakiese circled the cage as Johnson attempted to walk him down, throwing kicks from at range. Johnson certainly seemed to have the quicker hands, but an uppercut from Diakiese put him on the retreat, and Diakiese started to get to work offensively. Diakiese slipped at one point and Johnson followed him to the ground, but the fighters quickly returned to their feet. This was a difficult round to score. 10-9 Diakiese.
Diakiese began the second round with a spinning kick to the body, and Johnson responded with a short combination of punches. Johnson seemed to be having trouble finding his target at times, but his straight left hands were probably his most consistently successful weapon, commonly throwing them to the body as well as the head. Diakiese seemed hesitant to lead the attack, and Johnson pulled ahead in terms of activity by the end of this round, likely securing this one on the scorecards. 19-19.
The fighters traded body shots to begin the final round. Johnson stuffed a takedown attempt from Diakiese, keeping the fight on the feet. Johnson landed a heavy right hand at one point, but Diakiese ate the shot well, and it seemed as though Johnson’s body shots were perhaps the more effective attack, at least in terms of landing them with regularity. The fight went the distance, and I scored the bout 29-28 in favor of Michael Johnson.
WINNER: Michael Johnson by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Diakiese seemed shocked by the decision, but I thought this one was fairly straightforward. Diakiese simply didn’t match Johnson’s activity throughout the final two rounds, and with neither man being in any significant danger throughout the bout, that accumulative damage was really what decided each round. I thought this was a solid performance from Johnson, and he’s certainly looked much improved throughout his last three bouts, after a considerable stretch of losses where it seemed as though his time in the UFC was coming to an end. Johnson now holds a record of 13-14 in the promotion.
CLAY GUIDA (37-22, 154.5) VS SCOTT HOLTZMAN (14-5, 155.5) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Holtzman threw a number of leg kicks in the opening minutes of the bout, as Guida attempted to circle the cage. Holtzman was doing a good job of maintaining the center of the octagon while cutting Guida off, opening up a number of opportunities for Holtzman to land heavy strikes. Holtzman seemed unconcerned by Guida’s power and was constantly pressuring forward and engaging him in short exchanges in the pocket. I thought this was a clear round for Holtzman, although Guida landed his best shot of the round right before time expired, a short right hook. 10-9 Holtzman.
Guida secured a takedown to begin the second round, but he was unable to keep Holtzman down for an extended period of time. Guida was doing a much better job of working his own game plan in the second round, landing short flurries of strikes before attempting takedowns. Guida was eventually able to slam Holtzman to the ground, and the broadcast noted that takedown marked his 74th takedown in the UFC, tying Demetrious Johnson for third all-time in the promotion. While he never had Holtzman in any significant danger, this was a much stronger round for Guida. 19-19.
Guida’s pace was wearing on Holtzman, who seemed to be fatigued by the final round. Still, he found success with a series of right hands that found their target, before Guida responded with a number of his own strikes. Guida wrapped Holtzman up against the cage, before lifting him up and bringing him down to the ground (passing Demetrious Johnson on the UFC’s all-time takedown leaders list). Holtzman made it back to his feet, but he was exhausted, and Guida kept pressing forward, taking Holtzman down one last time. 29-28 Guida.
WINNER: Clay Guida by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
The third round was a tough one to score, as you could argue that Holtzman did more damage (and damage weighs above all other aspects of a round when scoring), but the strike count was fairly similar, Guida got the better of their grappling exchanges, and it wasn’t as though Holtzman ever had Guida in deep trouble on the feet. I wasn’t surprised to see that the judges were split, but in the end, I agreed with the decision. This marked Guida’s 34th fight in the UFC, and for Holtzman, likely his final bout in the sport of MMA. If this was indeed Holtzman’s final fight, he will retire with a professional record of 14-6, highlighted by a Fight of the Night victory over Jim Miller in 2020.
ANGELA HILL (14-12, 115.5) VS EMILY DUCOTE (12-6, 115.5) – STRAWWEIGHT
Hill was the more active fighter on the feet throughout the first round. There were not many significant moments from either fighter, so that activity from Hill was the story of the round, clearly pulling ahead of Ducote who was doing very little offensively. I didn’t think this was the most engaging round to watch, but I thought it was a fairly clear one to score in favor of Hill. 10-9 Hill.
The second round continued to play out in a very similar fashion to the previous round. Ducote simply did not seem to have many answers for Hill, and she was having difficulties creating opportunities for herself offensively. Hill defended a takedown attempt from Ducote, and she landed numerous knees to the body to punish her for the attempt. It was another clear round for Hill, who was pulling away with this fight by the end of round two. 20-18 Hill.
Ducote was a bit more aggressive to begin the final round, but Hill rebounded as the round progressed, landing quick combinations before doing legitimate damage in the clinch, attacking the body with knees while landing numerous sharp elbows. In the end, the fight went the distance, and this was likely another round for Hill. 30-27 Hill.
WINNER: Angela Hill by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
Hill largely dominated this fight. Ducote was overwhelmed by Hill’s output, and I thought that the work Hill did from the clinch in particular was fantastic. This was a very one-sided bout, which is exactly what Hill needed after a very long streak of close decisions. Hill’s reached a point in her career in which it’s tough to guess what exactly will be next for her, but at it stands, she is the twelfth-ranked strawweight contender, and she has yet to fight the ninth-ranked Amanda Ribas (who was supposed to compete on this card), so perhaps that is a logical direction to go in for the UFC matchmakers.
NIKO PRICE (15-5, 2 NC, 170) VS PHIL ROWE (9-3, 173.5) – WELTERWEIGHT
Rowe missed weight by 2.5 lbs and was fined a percentage of his purse.
Rowe looked as though he was a weight class above Price, who is far from a small welterweight himself. Rowe partially landed a flying knee to the face, before he landed a strong right hand. Price took the shots well and paced forward, as he attempted to trap Rowe against the cage. Rowe seemed to rock Price with a right hand, but Price came back swinging, seemingly recovered. Rowe ended the round with a left hand as well as a short right hook that found its target.
Price pressured forward in the second round, looking to close the distance. Rowe opted to take Price to the ground but soon decided to stand back up, as the fight continued to play out on the feet. Price was the more active fighter, but Rowe was doing more damage whenever he landed, and Price soon began to search for a takedown of his own. One exchange left Rowe in an advantageous position on the ground, as he took the back of Price and locked in a body triangle, but he could not secure the submission before time expired in the round.
Price came out swinging in the third round, likely with the knowledge that he was down on the scorecards. Price was able to wobble Rowe, and he went on the attack in pursuit of the finish. Rowe eventually fell to the ground as he attempted to take Price down, and Price took top position, where he began to throw down hard ground and pound shots. Rowe somehow made it back to his feet, and he began to throw back as Price’s exhaustion became clear. A huge right hand from Rowe rocked Price badly, and Rowe just poured it on until the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Phil Rowe by TKO at 3:26 of Round 3
Price’s output throughout this fight was incredible, and he was very close to stopping Rowe in the third round after likely losing the previous two, but Rowe survived Price’s onslaught, and Price was completely exhausted after he emptied the gas tank trying to get Rowe out of there. Rowe was hurt and tired himself, but he just had a bit more left in him, and he immediately went on the attack after realizing the extent of Price’s exhaustion, quickly finishing the fight. Despite missing weight, this was Rowe’s biggest win to date, and the third round of this fight was one of the more entertaining rounds of the year. Rowe is now 3-1 in the UFC, and all three of those wins have come by way of TKO.
ERYK ANDERS (14-7, 1 NC, 186) VS KYLE DAUKAUS (11-3, 1 NC, 184.6) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
Anders rocked Daukaus badly in the first round, sending him to the ground. It looked as though Daukaus was in rough shape, but Anders did not want to follow him to the ground, and he gave Daukaus time to recover and get back into the fight. Anders attacked the body in combination as the round continued to play out, and he found great success, but an accidental clash of heads floored Daukaus, leading to a pause in the action. No point was deducted from Anders as it was accidental on both sides, and the fight continued. Anders dropped Daukaus one last time with a heavy hook before time expired.
Anders defended a takedown attempt from Daukaus to begin the second round, and Daukaus opted to pull guard after his unsuccessful attempt. Anders allowed Daukaus to his feet and dropped him with yet another left hand. This time, Anders followed Daukaus to the ground, and he threw down ground and pound until the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Eryk Anders by TKO at 2:45 of Round 2
Anders dominated this fight, seemingly rocking Daukaus every time in which he connected with power. It was one of his best performances to date, and he was fighting with real aggression here, which is something that has been lacking from some of his recent performances. Following this victory, Anders UFC record improved to 7-7 (1 NC). Anders called out Jamie Pickett in his post-fight interview.
JACK HERMANSSON (23-7, 186) VS ROMAN DOLIDZE (11-1, 185.5) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
The fighters exchanged leg kicks to begin the fight. Hermansson shot for a takedown, and Dolidze attempted to counter with a guillotine choke, before sweeping his way back to the feet. Dolidze was quite stationary, and in response, Hermansson was picking apart his lead leg, constantly throwing calf kicks before getting out of range. It wasn’t necessarily the most action-packed round, but it was a fairly clear one for Hermansson nonetheless.
The crowd began to voice their displeasure with the pace of the fight in the second round. Hermansson continued to circle away from Dolidze while landing calf kicks, and Dolidze’s moments of success on the feet were few and far between. Hermansson took Dolidze to the ground once again, but Dolidze threw up a reverse triangle to make Hermansson give up his position. I thought Dolidze did excellent work off of his back, and he trapped Hermansson’s right leg, taking top position in the process. With Hermansson’s leg trapped, he was completely unable to move, and Dolidze just threw down right hands until the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Roman Dolidze by TKO at 4:06 of Round 2
This was a very unique finish. Dolidze basically trapped Hermansson (who was in top position) with a calf slicer, before taking his back and finishing the fight with ground and pound. Hermansson is a skilled grappler himself, so securing a position like this against a grappler of his caliber is no easy feat, and this is unquestionably Dolidze’s biggest win to date. Dolidze will likely be moved into the top ten of the middleweight rankings following this win, and he made the most of the moment by calling out Khamzat Chimaev in his post-fight interview.
TAI TUIVASA (14-4, 266) VS SERGEI PAVLOVICH (16-1, 255) – HEAVYWEIGHT
The fighters immediately started trading punches like madmen, and Pavlovich quickly got the better of the exchange. He dropped Tuivasa hard, and while Tuivasa did his best to recover and continue fighting, Pavlovich quickly dropped him two more times, and after the final knockdown, Pavlovich just threw down ground and pound blows until the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Sergei Pavlovich by TKO at 0:54 of Round 1
Sergei Pavlovich may be the most dangerous heavyweight in the world at the moment. This marked his fifth consecutive first-round knockout, and the fourteenth first-round finish of his career. His one career loss came in his UFC debut to Alistair Overeem, who ultimately got the better of Pavlovich on the ground, and that grappling ability remains the biggest question in terms of Pavlovich’s ceiling in the division, but as it stands, Pavlovich is coming off quick finishes over two highly ranked fighters in Derrick Lewis and Tai Tuivasa, so it is quite probable that he will be mixing it up with the truly elite level heavyweights in his next bout. While there is really no chance of this being his next bout, a potential fight against Francis Ngannou sounds extremely entertaining, and I hope that we see that one play out one day.
MATT SCHNELL (16-6, 1 NC, 126) VS MATHEUS NICOLAU (18-2-1, 126) – FLYWEIGHT
Neither fighter was particularly active throughout the first half of the opening round. Eventually, Nicolau burst forward and cropped Schnell with a left hand, but he seemed so surprised by the knockdown that he didn’t capitalize on the moment in time. Nicolau was countering well whenever Schnell closed the distance, and that aside, there was not much to say about these five minutes.
Nicolau wobbled Schnell with another left hand early in the second round, before taking him down with four minutes to work. He allowed Schnell back to his feet, before dropping him with one last shot, and this time Nicolau followed Schnell to the ground, where he finished the fight with ground and pound.
WINNER: Matheus Nicolau by KO at 1:44 of Round 2
This was pretty much a perfect performance from Nicolau. He just stood back, circled the cage, and waited for Schnell to attack, countering him strongly each time, rocking and dropping Schnell repeatedly before eventually securing the finish. It was the exact result Nicolau needed, as he is a fighter who typically goes the distance (often in unentertaining fashion), and as he revealed in his post-fight interview, this marked the final fight on his UFC contract. Assuming he re-signs with the promotion, Nicolau is slowly inching towards a title shot, and if he has another impressive outing in his next bout, I wouldn’t be shocked if he ends up fighting for that title sooner rather than later.
BRYAN BARBERENA (18-8, 170.5) VS RAFAEL DOS ANJOS (31-14, 170) – WELTERWEIGHT
There were some heavy swings from both men early in the bout, narrowly missing their respective targets. RDA brought Barberena into the clinch, where he was easily able to take Barberena down, and dos Anjos began to hunt for an arm triangle. The positioning was a bit off, as the fighters were so close to the cage, but it was still a very dominant position for dos Anjos to work from. Towards the end of the round, RDA officially passed Frankie Edgar for the most octagon time in the history of the UFC, which is quite the statistic, but not a surprising one considering dos Anjos’s longevity as well as his remarkable durability.
The fighters continued to wrestle in the clinch in the second round, as Barberena looked for a takedown of his own. Eventually, it was dos Anjos who began to pull ahead in the wrestling department, and he was able to bring Barberena back to the ground. RDA took Barberena’s back with two minutes remaining in the round, and he started cranking the neck, which quickly forced Barberena to submit.
WINNER: Rafael dos Anjos by rear naked choke at 3:20 of Round 2
Rafael dos Anjos is a very well-rounded fighter, and he was able to utilize his advantage over Barberena in the clinch and on the ground to secure the second-round finish. It was a dominant performance, and honestly, a sign that dos Anjos is still several levels above unranked competition. As a result of this victory, RDA is now tied for fifth all-time for wins in the UFC with 21, and he became the first fighter in UFC history to log in over eight hours of octagon time throughout his career. He’s had a hall-of-fame-worthy career, and he definitely seems to have a lot left in the tank, although his years of title contention are likely behind him at this point. After the fight, RDA called out Conor McGregor, referencing their canceled fight from years back, and stated that they should fight in July so McGregor has time to clear his system of the substances that he’s been taking since breaking his tibia against Dustin Poirier last year.
STEPHEN THOMPSON (16-6-1, 170) VS KEVIN HOLLAND (23-8, 1 NC, 170.5) – WELTERWEIGHT
The fighters touched gloves to begin the main event. Holland pressured forward early, and wrapped Thompson up against the cage. They separated soon after, where Thompson landed a strong straight left hand. A shot from Holland cut Wonderboy open near his left eye, and there were some heavy exchanges where both fighters were landing heavily. A right hand from Holland rocked Thompson, and he moved in to finish the fight, but Wonderboy fired back, keeping himself in the fight. Thompson landed a series of straight left hands, but Holland took the shots well, and he ended the round with a number of body shots.
Wonderboy connected with a head kick to start round two. They traded leg kicks, as well as numerous short combinations. A left hand from Thompson seemed to wobble Holland, and he moved in for the kill, but Holland responded well and was able to relieve the pressure. Holland took Thompson down at one point, but immediately let him back to his feet, which seemed to be a statement considering that Holland was in an excellent position. There were some crazy exchanges between these fighters, and the crowd was going insane as these fighters traded heavy blows. Both fighters seemed rocked at points, but somehow, they both made it out of the round.
Thompson connected with a jumping switch kick early in the third round. Once again, Holland had an opportunity to take Wonderboy down, but he let him back up, and the fight continued to play out on the feet. Thompson landed a hook kick, but Holland took the shot well, and he was finding success with short shots from the clinch whenever the opportunities presented themselves. Wonderboy seemed to be pulling ahead of Holland with his lengthier combinations, but Holland fired back whenever it looked like he was being overwhelmed, showing that he still had serious power on his side.
Holland was looking at his right hand between rounds, and it looked as though he may have injured it at some point in round three. There was a clash of heads in the fourth round, but it was an accidental blow and the fight continued to play out as Holland started looking to utilize his wrestling to greater effect. Holland was taking some brutal shots from Thompson and was shooting for takedowns out of desperation, but Thompson’s takedown defense held up. At one point, referee Dan Miragliotta seemingly waived the fight off (declaring Thompson the winner), but then decided that what he originally deemed as a fight-ending reaction from Holland to a body shot was a reaction to an illegal blow instead, and the fight continued. Wonderboy went right back on the attack, cracking Holland with a series of kicks to the head, and it was a miracle that Holland was still standing. Holland was taking an extreme amount of damage, but he never went down until the final seconds of the round, and even then, he still managed to survive until the horn sounded. This was a clear 10-8 round.
Between the fourth and fifth rounds, Holland’s corner made the call to stop the fight, which was the right decision considering the immense damage their fighter had taken, as well as the injury to his right hand.
WINNER: Stephen Thompson by TKO at 5:00 of Round 4
This was one of the best fights of the entire year. Both fighters were going for the finish from the opening seconds of the bout, with neither man fighting with an ounce of fear in them. Thompson was seemingly the quicker fighter, but Holland had the edge in terms of power, and both fighters had the other in numerous spots of trouble throughout the bout. Eventually, the pace, the damage sustained, and the injury to Holland’s right hand all caught up to him, and the last round was somewhat uncomfortable to watch, but thankfully, Holland’s corner stepped in and they didn’t send him out there for another five minutes. While Teixeira/Prochazka still has my vote for fight of the year, this might finish second place for me, and this was certainly a huge win for the now thirty-nine-year-old Stephen Thompson.