Stephen Thompson Silences Kevin Holland in Spectacular UFC on ESPN 42 Headliner
Stephen Thompson’s zest and zeal for the martial arts came through in one of the best performances of his career.
“Wonderboy” weathered brushes with adversity, kept his head above water and maintained his position as one of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s premier welterweights, as he forced a corner stoppage against Kevin Holland in their UFC on ESPN 42 headliner on Saturday at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. Holland (23-9, 10-6 UFC) and his handlers called it a night in between the fourth and fifth rounds.
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In a clear contender for “Fight of the Year,” Holland made the first significant move when he staggered the South Carolinian with an overhand right in the first round and followed up with knee strikes and standing elbows. Thompson (17-6-1, 12-6-1 UFC) recovered, seized the reins in Round 2 and never looked back. He managed distance beautifully, darted in to range with punches and cut loose with a dazzling array of leg attacks, from hook kicks and wheel kicks to everything in between. Holland fired back but suffered an apparent hand injury along the way, curtailing some of his effectiveness.
Thompson punctuated his performance with a sensational fourth round. There, he increased the frequency and intensity of his kicks, a pair of shots to the liver taking away whatever steam Holland had left. The “Trailblazer” was on the brink of being finished on multiple occasions during the period, and not long after he returned to his corner, the decision was made to shut him down.
Dos Anjos Crank Vanquishes Barberena
Nova Uniao’s Rafael dos Anjos took care of Bryan Barberena with a neck crank in the second round of their welterweight co-main event. Barberena (18-9, 9-7 UFC) conceded defeat 3:20 into Round 2, suffering his first submission loss in more than a decade.
Dos Anjos (32-14, 21-12 UFC) set the tone from the start, as he tripped the Gym-O representative to the canvas in the first round, threatened with an arm-triangle choke and settled in full mount. Barberena survived but only prolonged the inevitable. Dos Anjos delivered another trip takedown in Round 2, progressed to half guard and eventually maneuvered onto his opponent’s back. He then snaked his arms in place and let his crushing squeeze do the rest.
The 38-year-old dos Anjos has won three of his past four bouts.
Efficient Nicolau Snipes Schnell
“The Ultimate Fighter Brazil” Season 4 semifinalist Matheus Nicolau continued his climb on the flyweight ladder, as he dismissed Matt Schnell with punches in the second round of their featured attraction at 125 pounds. Schnell (16-7, 6-5 UFC) wilted 1:44 into Round 2.
Nicolau (19-2-1, 7-1 UFC) circled on the outside and patiently waited for openings to present themselves; and while the crowd grew restless at times with his approach, it became clear he had a plan and intended to execute it. He dropped Schnell with a left hook in the first round, applied some ground-and-pound and set the table for what was to come. Nicolau knocked down the Fortis MMA rep again with right hand behind the ear in the second and hammered away with punches until the stoppage was called.
Now on a six-fight tear, Nicolau has not tasted defeat in more than four years.
Pavlovich Obliterates Tuivasa in 54 Seconds
Onetime Fight Nights Global champion Sergei Pavlovich laid waste to Tai Tuivasa with punches less than a minute in the first round of their heavyweight showcase. Tuivasa (14-5, 8-5 UFC) packed his bags 54 seconds into Round 1, suffering his second setback in as many outings.
Pavlovich (17-1, 5-1 UFC) was punishing and precise. He sat down Tuivasa with a stiff jab, gave chase with punches and reset himself when the finish did not immediately materialize. Soon, Pavlovich was back at it. He caught a ducking Tuivasa with a right uppercut along the fence, forced the affable Aussie into self-preservation mode and let fly with power punches until referee Marc Goddard waved it off.
The 30-year-old Pavlovich has gone 5-0 since his ill-fated Octagon debut opposite Alistair Overeem on Nov. 24, 2018.
Innovative Dolidze Stuns Hermansson
Roman Dolidze put away former Cage Warriors Fighting Championship titleholder Jack Hermansson with punches from a modified back mount in the second round of their featured middleweight attraction. A short-notice substitution for Derek Brunson, Dolidze (12-1, 6-1 UFC) drew the curtain 4:06 into Round 2.
Hermansson (23-8, 10-6 UFC) was on cruise control for much of the first round, where he leaned heavily on his kicks and elusive movement. However, he completed a takedown in the middle stanza and immediately wandered into quicksand. Dolidze fished for an armbar and made a pass for a reverse triangle choke from the bottom before his spirit of innovation rose to the forefront. He trapped Hermansson in a calf slicer, then rolled him into a facedown position. There was no escape. Dolidze uncorked repeated punches to the side of the subdued Frontline Academy star’s head, resulting in one of the more creative finishes in UFC history.
The 34-year-old Dolidze will carry a four-fight winning streak into his next assignment.
Aggressive Andrews Wrecks Daukaus
Former Legacy Fighting Alliance champion Eryk Anders rebounded from back-to-back losses to Andre Muniz and Jun Young Park in resounding fashion, as he dismissed Kyle Daukaus with punches in the second round of their middleweight showcase. Daukaus (11-4, 2-4 UFC) met his end 2:45 into Round 2.
Anders (15-7, 7-7 UFC) floored the Philadelphia native twice with left hands in the first round and also benefitted from an inadvertent clash of heads that had his counterpart trying to clear the cobwebs. Daukaus emerged for the middle stanza in a still-compromised state and failed to keep the Fight Ready export at bay. Anderson denied his bid for a desperation takedown, moved back into open space and decked him again with another left hand over the top. Daukaus turtled in a defensive position, ate more punches and gave referee Keith Peterson no choice but to intervene on his behalf.
Daukaus, 29, has suffered consecutive defeats for the first time in his career.
Overweight Rowe Bounces Price
Fusion X-Cel standout Philip Rowe disposed of Niko Price with punches in the third round of their entertaining welterweight feature. In his first appearance since Oct. 2, 2021, Price (15-6, 7-6 UFC) bowed out 3:26 into a memorable Round 3.
Rowe (10-3, 3-1 UFC)—who missed weight by 2.5 pounds—appeared to bank a two-rounds-to-none lead with consistent and accurate standup. Price upped his aggression in the third and nearly rallied for an improbable finish. He staggered Rowe with a right hand over the top, drove him to the canvas with a right uppercut and took a kneeling position in half guard before unleashing elbows and punches. It was not enough to get the job done. Rowe returned to his feet, backed his opponent to the fence and stunned him with a crushing right cross. A badly dazed Price remained upright but could not withstand the onslaught of punches that followed.
The 32-year-old Rowe has recorded three straight victories.
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