Welterweights Stephen Thompson and Kevin Holland promised to deliver an affair to remember in their five-round headliner, and they absolutely delivered and delivered an exciting contest while it lasted. In what is sure to land on many “Fight of the Year” lists, Thompson eventually walked away with a TKO win in the fourth round of the UFC on ESPN 42 Main Event, which airs on ESPN from the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla became.
Holland was the attacker early on, clearly ready to trade on his feet with his opponent, a well-known batting specialist. An early heads-to-head clash brought blood near Thompson’s left eye, while Holland also absorbed some heavy left hands in the early stages. Still, Holland was smiling and speaking to his opponent as he moved forward and engaged, shaking Thompson with a massive right hand. To his credit, Thompson fought through the odds and continued to find a home for well-timed straight shots, but Holland went through them all, seemingly unaffected, en route to winning the round.
Thompson came out on the second shot, and the pace stayed high as the pair traded punches and kicks at close range. Both men landed well, with heavy shots from different angles from the two creative forwards. Late in the frame, Holland scored a takedown on a scramble, but he immediately backed away and got back up, happy to engage Thompson in his favorite area.
Holland verbally prompted Thompson to start the third and asked him to “slow down” before the pair began exchanging again. Holland would stumble into a takedown again, only to back out and refuse to take on the floor where he would seemingly have the advantage. Holland kept the attacker on his feet, leaping forward with punches and slashing to the legs, but Thompson frequently hit the bull’s eye with straight left counterattacks and acrobatic kicks. Thompson’s face was the one with more visible damage, but he was clearly gaining momentum and Holland seemed concerned about the condition of his right hand as he headed back into the corner.
In the fourth, Holland quickly moved forward and accidentally crashed into Thompson again, drawing blood from his nose. Referee Dan Miragliotta reset the fighters and Thompson said he was able to continue before pulling off a couple of devastating kicks to the body. As they went to the clinch shortly after, Thompson landed a right hand in the groin, resulting in a timeout that initially looked like the fight would be waved off. However, the replays showed a low blow and they resumed action shortly after, with Thompson immediately resuming his attack. Several high kicks landed cleanly, as did straight punches down the middle, dropping Holland late in the frame, though he was able to survive to the bell.
However, when Holland returned to his corner, he asked his corner to wave the fight off, which they did, giving Thompson a TKO win. The judges had “Wonderboy” ahead 39-36, 39-37, and 39-36 at the time of the stoppage.
Thompson, 39, (17-6-1 MMA, 12-6-1 UFC) ended a two-fight losing streak with the result and said he believes he has a lot left in the tank going forward.
“My last two shows, I lost to Grappler,” Thompson said after the fight. “I wanted to show the UFC and the fans that ‘Wonderboy’ is still here. I feel like I’m 25. I’m still in it for the long haul, and I still have it.”
Meanwhile, Holland (23-9 MMA, 10-6 UFC) certainly delivered great entertainment but ultimately suffered his second loss in a row. Afterwards, he admitted the right hand injury occurred fairly early in the night.
“I think I hurt it on the first lap and it hurt after that, so that’s what it is,” said Holland.
UFC results on ESPN 42 include:
- Stephen Thompson defeated. Kevin Holland via TKO (retirement) – Round 4, 5:00
- Rafael dos Anjos defeated. Bryan Barberena via submission (rear-naked-choke) – Round 2, 3:20
- Matheus Nicolau defeated. Matt Schnell via KO (punches) – Round 2, 1:44
- Sergei Pavlovich defeated. Tai Tuivasa via knockout (punches) – Round 1, 0:54
- Roman Dolidze defeated. Jack Hermansson via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 4:06
- Eryk Anders defeated. Kyle Daukaus TKO (punches) – Round 2, 2:45
- Phil Rowe defeated. Niko Price TKO (punches) – Round 3, 3:26
- Defeated Angela Hill. Emily Ducote by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Sand Guide def. Scott Holtzman via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
- Michael Johnson defeated. Marc Diakiese by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
- Jonathan Pearce defeated. Darren Elkins by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
- Defeated Natan Levy. Genaro Valdez by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
- Defeated Francis Marshall. Marcelo Rojo via KO (punches) – Round 2, 1:14
- Defeated Yazmin Jauregui. Istela Nunes via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 4:06
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