Sports

Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson proves he still has it in TKO win over Kevin Holland

(L-R) Stephen Thompson kicks Kevin Holland in a welterweight bout during UFC Fight Night at the Amway Center on December 3, 2022 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

After being repeatedly taken down and held down by wrestlers in their previous bouts, Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson and Kevin Holland vowed not to wrestle at all when they met in the main event of the UFC Orlando at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida.

At some point early in the fight they went down after a scramble and Holland had a chance to take first place. Instead, he bounced back and waved his finger, saying, “No wrestling.”

And for four incredible rounds on Saturday, there was no wrestling, just top-notch striking. It was an incredible back-and-forth fight that will be in contention for Fight of the Year, but Thompson’s varied punching game made the difference.

Holland appeared to hurt his right hand early in the fight and without that weapon he was at a serious disadvantage against a poised Thompson. Thompson raked him in with straight left hands and kicks to the leg, body and head.

Thompson was pouring it on and with their man unable to defend himself properly with his right hand, Dutch trainer Bob Perez opted to stop the fight after the fourth round, handing Thompson the victory by TKO.

It was a very entertaining classic battle with the fighters throwing strikes using every appendage of their body.

Thompson, who turns 40 on Feb. 11, was determined to prove he’s still among the elite at welterweight. He was coming off losses to Gilbert Burns and Belal Muhammad, who each took him down and wouldn’t let him use his striking, and he was energized by facing a fighter with a striking style like Holland’s.

“The guy has range for days, and I knew it was going to be tough to get to him on the inside,” Thompson said in the Octagon afterwards. “I had to use my timing, my distance management, to get inside and, of course, good timing.

“My last performances, I lost against grapplers. I wanted to show the UFC and the fans that I’m Wonderboy and I’m still here. You know, I feel like I’m 25 and I’m still in for the long haul.

Holland, who looked sharp in the first round, was on the defensive for the most part afterwards. He took increasing punishment as the fight progressed and two of the three judges scored the fourth 10-8 for Thompson.

With him unable to use the right, it could have been dangerous in the fifth, so Perez made the wise decision to stop him.

Holland was disappointed, but he got what he wanted.

“[Thompson was] a little faster than I thought, but [otherwise it was] definitely what I expected,” Holland said. “Hats off to Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson, his pops and everyone out there in his corner. Wonderful team.

And it was a wonderful night. It was a day and night marathon of fights, and the main event didn’t start until around 1 a.m. ET. Those who stayed up late were greatly rewarded.

Source : BBN NEWS

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