Stephen Thompson earned his first victory in nearly two years with an impressive performance on Saturday night, using his striking skills to force a late stoppage against fellow middleweight Kevin Holland.
Their fight headlined a “Fight Night” card from the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida, USA.
Thompson battled early adversity against Holland, getting past these moments to showcase flashy striking in later rounds.
Holland stunned Thompson in many different instances in the first round of their fight, connecting with clean punches. Thompson was able to return with his own shots in these moments, but it became clear that he was behind in the battle.
Things started to slowly go Thompson’s way as the fight progressed. He started to connect with his flashy kicks to the head and body of Holland.
Holland’s toughness was on display early, as he often ate significant strikes without getting badly hurt by them.
Thompson was closing in on a finish by the fourth round. Holland was backed up against the fence for a large portion of the round, attempting to guard himself from Thompson’s flashy striking. A zoned-in Thompson continued to dominate until the round ran out of time.
Holland’s corner made the call to stop the fight before the fifth round started.
The performance snapped a two-fight skid for Thompson. He took two losses in 2021 against significant fighters Gilbert Burns and Belal Muhammad.
Thompson stated afterward that he hoped the fight would prove to many that his skill hasn’t faded despite recent career turmoil.
“I wanted to show the UFC and fans that ‘Wonderboy’ is still here,” said Thompson in his post-fight interview.
Holland was making his first main event appearance since moving down from middleweight. His run in the weight class started with wins over Alex Oliveira and Tim Means earlier this year. He then appeared at UFC 279, where a last-minute shuffle of the card put him against Khamzat Chimaev on just a day’s notice. Chimaev prevailed in that fight with a first-round darce choke submission.
Dos Anjos Puts On Grappling Clinic
Veteran Rafael dos Anjos flexed his grappling abilities on Saturday night, controlling Bryan Barberena on the ground until he finished the bout with a rear naked choke.
Dos Anjos worked Barberena on the ground for numerous minutes in the second round, eventually locking in a choke for a tap. A round prior he spent a series of minutes in top position, searching for an arm triangle choke the entire time.
Dos Anjos, a vet of more than 30 UFC fights, ends his 2022 with a positive record in the year. He started his year with a five-round decision win over Rafael Fiziev. His most recent fight before Saturday was in July, when Rafael Fiziev finished him in the fifth round of a main event bout.
Barberena was looking to go on a four-fight winning streak for the first time since joining the UFC roster in 2014. This streak included wins earlier this year against veterans Matt Brown and Robbie Lawler.
Nicolau Keeps Streak Alive With Finish Win
Matheus Nicolau kept his winning streak at flyweight alive this weekend with a sharp striking showcase against fellow ranked fighter Matt Schnell.
Nicolau dropped Schnell a few times in their brief contest. His left hand in particular landed frequently, causing Schnell to drop twice.
The fight came to an end after Schnell dropped Nicolau with an overhand right. He then went to the back of Schnell, where he landed a series of ground and pound shots that caused the bout to end.
The victory continued Nicolau’s winning streak, which is now four consecutive fights since he rejoined the UFC roster in 2021.
Schnell had a submission victory over Sumudaerji in July. He had a pair of losses at flyweight before then.
Pavlovich Stops Tuivasa Within A Minute For Fifth Consecutive Win
Sergei Pavlovich didn’t need long to stop fan favorite Tai Tuivasa, putting him away in less than a minute with strikes on Saturday night.
Pavlovich engaged in hectic stand-up exchanges with Tuivasa, getting the better shots in and closing out the battle in only seconds. Tuivasa got dropped within a minute of the bout, allowing Pavlovich to go to the ground and finish the bout with follow-up shots.
Pavlovich has now put together five straight wins in the UFC via first-round finish. Two more of those wins came this year, beating Shamil Abdurakhimov and Derrick Lewis.
Tuivasa was arguably one win away from a title fight earlier this year. At one point he had five consecutive first-round finishes as a pro, including one against former title challenger Derrick Lewis. But this momentum was stopped in the main event of a card in September, as Ciryl Gane stopped him in the third round with strikes.
Dolidze Utilizes Calf Slicer For Creative Ground And Pound Finish
Roman Dolidze put together an innovative position on the ground to stop Jack Hermansson in the second round with strikes.
Dolidze took the back of Hermansson in the second round, trapping a leg with a calf slicer along with an arm while unloading punches. This position stopped Hermansson from defending himself, and allowed Dolidze to land with punches until the fight came to an end.
Hermansson was in the fight prior to the finish, staying active on the feet with leg kicks against Dolidze.
Dolidze now has an impressive four-fight winning streak, with a trio of those wins coming via stoppage in this year alone.
Hermansson was coming off a decision win over Chris Curtis from earlier this year. He has lost three of his past five fights, albeit against many of the top names in the middleweight division.
Anders Ends Losing Streak With Finish Victory
The striking skills of Eryk Anders allowed him to pick up a second-round stoppage over Kyle Daukaus on Saturday night.
Anders rocked Daukaus numerous times with his punches during the fight. He was notably wobbled on the ground from hammerfist punches while attempting to score a takedown.
A long string of ground and pound shots from Anders was what finally caused the fight to end in the second round.
Saturday’s performance was a crucial one for Anders, as it stopped him from falling into a three-fight skid. His previous appearances saw him lose via submission to Andre Muniz and drop a split decision to Park Jun-yong.
Daukaus was finished in his previous fight as well, getting stopped in just over a minute by Roman Doldize in June.
Rowe Finishes Tired Price Late, Closing Out Striking Showcase
Cardio ended up being the deciding factor in a welterweight victory for Philip Rowe, which culminated against Niko Price in the third round.
Rowe succeeded in the first and second rounds of the fight, having the crisper striking on the feet and even briefly showcasing his grappling skills. It looked like he was on his way toward a victory without any major roadbumps.
Price threatened to take this lead away early in the third round, visibly wobbling him with a series of punches on the feet. He continued to stay on Rowe as he went to the ground, landing some shots from a dominant position.
But after Rowe recovered and returned to his feet, the energy that Price expended came back to bite him. A wobbling and visibly fatigued Price started to consume shots from Rowe, lowering his guard during some moments.
An overwhelming series of shots from Rowe eventually caused the fight to end.
Rowe is now on a three-fight winning streak. Previous appearances on his record were also finishes, putting away Orion Cosce and Jason Witt.
Price was coming off his sole win since 2019, which was a decision last year over Alex Oliveira.
The Rest of the Card
Angela Hill had a one-sided performance against former Invicta FC Strawweight Champion Emily Ducote, defeating her via unanimous decision after a strong stand-up performance through all three rounds.
Veteran Clay Guida used ground control to earn a split decision victory over Scott Holtzman. The bout was Holtzman’s final fight as a pro, ending a career that included 20 appearances and 11 UFC fights.
Michael Johnson returned to the win column on Saturday with a unanimous decision victory over Marc Diakiese. The win started to turn things around for Johnson, who has lost five of his previous six fights.
Jonathan Pearce picked up a win against the tough Darren Elkins, who became badly bloodied and beaten by the time their fight came to its unanimous decision outcome.
The progression of Natan Levy’s striking skills were evident on Saturday when he worked his way toward a unanimous decision victory against lightweight Genaro Valdez.
Undefeated Francis Marshall won his UFC debut on the prelims, dropping Marcelo Rojo in the second round with a left hook while exiting the clinch. Rojo has now lost three consecutive fights since joining the UFC roster.
Yazmin Jauregui had another hard-fought victory to remain undefeated this weekend, surviving an early knockdown to stop Istela Nunes in the second round with strikes.
Main Card (10:00PM EST) (ESPN / TSN 5)
Bout 14: Stephen Thompson def. Kevin Holland via TKO, Corner Stoppage (RD 4, 5:00)
Bout 13: Rafael dos Anjos def. Bryan Barberena via Submission, Rear Naked Choke (RD 2, 3:20)
Bout 12: Matheus Nicolau def. Matt Schnell via TKO, Strikes (RD 2, 1:44)
Bout 11: Sergei Pavlovich def. Tai Tuivasa via TKO, Strikes (RD 1, 0:54)
Bout 10: Roman Dolidze def. Jack Hermansson via TKO, Strikes (RD 2, 4:06)
Bout 9: Eryk Anders def. Kyle Daukaus via TKO, Strikes (RD 2, 2:45)
Bout 8: Philip Rowe def. Niko Price via TKO, Strikes (RD 3, 3:26)
Preliminary Card (7:00PM EST) (ESPN / TSN 5)
Bout 7: Angela Hill def. Emily Ducote via Decision, Unanimous
Bout 6: Clay Guida def. Scott Holtzman via Decision, Split
Bout 5: Michael Johnson def. Marc Diakiese via Decision, Unanimous
Bout 4: Jonathan Pearce def. Darren Elkins via Decision, Unanimous
Bout 3: Natan Levy def. Genaro Valdez via Decision, Unanimous
Bout 2: Francis Marshall def. Marcelo Rojo via TKO, Strikes (RD 2, 1:14)
Bout 1: Yazmin Jauregui def. Istela Nunes via TKO, Strikes (RD 2, 4:06)