Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson’s wonderful, downright marvelous performance against Kevin Holland helped secure the pair Fight of the Night honors at UFC Orlando.
Thompson put on a striking clinic in the welterweight affair, which very much lived up to its billing as an explosive stand-up battle.
Holland found success early, rocking Thompson a couple of times in the opening round. But after sustaining a hand injury, the “Trailblazer” was forced into more of a defensive mode — and with the Karate stylings of Thompson in full effect, he was little more than a sitting duck.
By the fourth round, “Wonderboy” had Holland practically leaning on the cage to stay standing, and cracked him with a number of head kicks. And while Holland simply refused to go away, his team had seen enough. Between rounds, they threw in the towel — a brave and commendable decision in a sport that sees extended beatdowns more often than it should.
Holland lives to fight another day, although he has flirted with retirement over the past year. As for Thompson, who turns 40 in February, he instantly re-enters the conversation as a top contender, and potential title challenger, in a wide-open 170lb weight class where Leon Edwards currently reigns.
Performance of the Night bonuses at UFC Orlando, meanwhile, went to Roman Dolidze and Sergei Pavlovich. Russia’s Pavlovich engaged in a brief but violent firefight with heavyweight fan-favorite Tai Tuivasa earlier on the main card, leaving the Australian bloodied. Dolidze, in a short-notice middleweight scrap against Jack Hermansson, showed some flair on the ground when he trapped Hermansson face down in a calf slicer, then trapped a wrist while dropping some heavy punches for a TKO victory.
All four bonus winning fighters will pocket an extra $50,000 for their efforts, on top of their usual fight purse, outfitting pay, etc.