Rumors of Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson’s demise were greatly exaggerated.
Following two straight losses, the 39-year-old veteran was suddenly fielding questions about his potential retirement but he gave an emphatic answer with his performance on Saturday night as he dismantled Kevin Holland over four rounds in the UFC Orlando main event.
While he did have to bounce back from an early punch that had him wobbled, Thompson just poured on the punishment until Holland’s corner mercifully called a stop to the contest after the end of the fourth round. The win puts “Wonderboy” back on track following a truly dazzling showcase.
“My last two performances, I lost to grapplers,” Thompson said afterwards. “I wanted to show to the UFC and the fans that ‘Wonderboy’s still here. I feel like I’m 25. I’m still here for the long haul and I’ve still got it. He’s tough as nails. Both of my hands hurt right now because of his hard noggin.”
With a pair of dynamic strikers in the cage, Holland and Thompson had little worry about defending takedowns, which meant they could unleash everything in the arsenal on the feet. A straight left hand was Thompson’s best punch early as he continuously tagged Holland in nearly every exchange.
Holland displayed an incredible chin as he kept absorbing Thompson’s best punches and then firing back with a ton of power in his hands. As the welterweights continued trading blows, Holland cracked Thompson with a nasty right hand that wobbled the two-time UFC title challenger.
Holland swarmed on him but Thompson survived the onslaught before the fighters reset in the center of the cage.
Once he recovered from the punch, Thompson settled down into a rhythm as he began unleashing head kicks to go along with his boxing combinations and Holland was struggling to keep up with his speed. Thompson’s fast hands and quick kicks were really giving Holland trouble as he continuously got tagged whenever he came forward with a burst.
Thompson was surgical with his combinations as he really began popping Holland with his punches, which then allowed him to set up his creative kicks. Late in the third round, “Wonderboy” uncorked a hellacious spinning heel kick that blasted Holland, who ate the shot and just kept coming.
With the momentum shifting heavily in Thompson’s favor, he then started targeting Holland’s midsection as he unloaded several shots to the ribs. Holland was clearly hurt from the body shots and he was backed against the cage just trying to avoid further damage.
That led to Thompson then targeting the head and he was throwing a series of spin kicks that kept blasting Holland yet he refused to go down. The damage he was absorbing was undeniable, however, and he was also dealing with an injury to his right hand, which was when his coaches declared enough was enough and stopped the fight.
“I think I hurt him in the first round and after that it was hurting,” Holland said about his hand injury. “A little faster than I thought but definitely what I expected.”
It was a vintage outing from “Wonderboy,” who has long been considered one of the top 170-pound fighters in the UFC yet two losses to Gilbert Burns and Belal Muhammad had many curious if perhaps his best days were already behind him.
Thompson certainly put those rumors to bed with his win on Saturday as he remains a constant threat to anyone and everyone in the welterweight rankings.