Stephen Thompson: ‘Smart call’ for Kevin Holland’s corner to throw in the towel at UFC Orlando


Stephen Thompson believes Kevin Holland and his team made the right decision by throwing in the towel.

At UFC Orlando, Thompson delivered one of his best performances in years, battering Holland over four rounds until Holland’s corner decided to stop the bout before the fifth round. Although corner stoppages in MMA are rare, it is something that “Wonderboy”, believes was the right call.

“I think it was great,” Thompson told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. It’s refreshing to hear that the coaches are taking care of their fighters, which is what it all boils down to. MMA has this thing where you’ve got to be tough, you’ve got to be strong — obviously you’ve got to be strong to be in the game, but there’s a fine line between being strong and being smart. So the coaches were definitely smart with it. Kevin didn’t need anything else. Kevin was done. He was done. He took a lot more shots in the fourth round. I hit him with two or three spinning hook kicks to the head. I can’t believe he was still standing. I dropped him a few times. I dropped him a few times.

Holland did well against Thompson early, even hurting him in the first round with a right hand, but that punch ultimately may have cost Holland, as he broke his hand. Holland was unable to come up with an offense, and Thompson took over. Thompson took over the reigns in the fourth round. He repeatedly hit Holland with body shots before dropping him with his left hand just before the final round. Thompson claims that Holland started having problems with his right arm and Thompson began to target the body more. This eventually led to the end of the round.

“A little bit, when I was out there, which is one of the reasons why I kept throwing the back leg roundhouse kick to his body, knowing that he’s going to block it with his right arm,” Thompson said when asked if he knew that Holland broke his hand. He stopped throwing it. He started throwing more elbows instead of his right hand, and every now and then he would shake it out a little bit. After putting two and two together I realized his hand was very hurt. He broke my skull in the first round, when I was stunned. Then I began aiming my back leg more towards his right arm, and he didn’t want to go out for the fifth round .”


Although Holland was clearly the aggressor, Thompson managed to escape the cage unharmed. Thompson, a former UFC welterweight champion, suffered several lacerations on his face and also broke both of his hands during the fight.

At this point, Thompson does not know how long the injury will keep him on the sidelines, but he’s hoping for a quick recovery and that he can fight again early next year.

“I’m hoping not [surgery],” he said. “I hear that Kevin Holland went through surgery. … My hope is that my hand will not need any surgery and I can just put it in the splint for some time to heal. I’m wanting to fight against early next year, 2023.”