‘Wonderboy’ Encourages UFC Matchmakers to Give Him More Fights vs. Strikers
Stephen Thompson and Kevin Holland had a sort of gentlemen’s agreement heading into their headlining bout at UFC on ESPN 42.
It resulted in one of the year’s most entertaining bouts, as Thompson and Holland engaged in a standup-friendly affair that resulted in a technical knockout victory for “Wonderboy” after four rounds. While Holland landed a pair of takedowns in the contest, on both occasions he elected to let his opponent up rather than rack up top control time. That was a theme for the entire fight.
“It was kind of one of those unwritten rules that we had going into this fight,” Thompson said at Saturday’s post-fight press conference. “I know later on in rounds he was shooting, I know he had a busted hand, but I think I fell down in the first round and he let me back up. He told me in the first round, he’s like, ‘Hey, I’m not taking you down.’ I’m like, ‘All right, man. Sounds good to me.’”
Early on, that seemed to favor Holland, who staggered Thompson with an overhand right in Round 1 and did further damage with knees and elbows. Unfortunately for the Dana White’s Contender Series alum, he appeared to suffer a hand injury that hindered his effectiveness the rest of the way.
“I did feel that. I had to weather the storm,” Thompson said. “He threw a lot of elbows at well that staggered me a little bit, but I had to keep moving as well. I’ve got a hard head and I weathered the storm and got the W.”
Over the next three rounds, “Wonderboy” took control through a multifaceted arsenal that included a variety of kicks, stinging punches and effective movement. Ultimately, that prompted Holland’s corner to call off the bout before the fifth frame. After struggling against grappling-minded foes Belal Muhammad and Gilbert Burns in his previous two Octagon appearances, Thompson was pleased to be able to showcase his skills on Saturday night in Orlando. The South Carolinian encouraged UFC matchmakers to give him more favorable stylistic pairings in the future.
“If you guys want more fights like that, give me a striker, baby,” Thompson said. “Give me a striker. Of course, I’m always looking for the title and that’s always at the top of the list, but why not have some fun fights on the way?”
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