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

Stephen Thompson on The MMA Hour

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. Corner stoppages are a rarity in MMA, but in this instance, “Wonderboy” believes it was absolutely the correct call.

“I think it was great,” Thompson told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “It’s a breath of fresh air, to be honest with you, because it’s the coaches taking care of the fighter, and that’s what it’s all about. 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. He didn’t have anything else. Kevin was done. His hand was shot. He was taking a lot of shots, especially in that 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. It was definitely a smart call on the coaches part, for sure.”

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. From that point on, Holland struggled to put together offense and Thompson began taking over. By the fourth round, Thompson had taken over, repeatedly hurting Holland with shots to the body before dropping him with a left hand shortly before the end of the round. Thompson says that once he noticed Holland was having issues with his right hand, he then started targeting the body more, which ultimately led to the stoppage.

“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. “So 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. So I kind of put two and two together, I figured his hand was pretty hurt, which he broke on my skull the first round when he staggered me. So I started aiming that back leg towards the right arm a lot more, which I think had the effect of him not wanting to come out to the fifth round.”

But while Holland certainly got the worse end of things, Thompson did not leave the cage unscathed. The former two-time UFC welterweight title challenger suffered multiple lacerations to the face during the fight, and broke his left hand as well.

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. ... I’m hoping that I will have no surgery on my hand and just have to put it in a splint and get some healing time. I’m wanting to fight against early next year, 2023.”

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