December 4 sees an important UFC fight for Stephen Thompson take on Kevin Holland. The two clash at the Amway Center in Orlando and both could do with a win. He comes into this fight against Kevin Holland having lost his last two fights and four of the last six. Not exactly the form that will get him into title contention.
Needless to say, another defeat would make 2023 a very difficult year. Success however would be a welcome boost after a difficult year.
Thompson Joined the company in 2012 after winning the first five fights of his MMA career. An explosive start was made as he scored a first round knockout. Not surprisingly, that won Thompson the KO of the night award. His second fight was not so successful though disappointing those betting on him as he lost on points to Matt Brown.
He didn’t fight again for 13 months but then showed his ability to UFC fans. Seven wins in a row came between 2013 and 2016 with three performance of the night awards. The winning streak earned him a shot at the UFC welterweight title.
His challenge to Tyron Woodley ended in a majority draw. The rematch saw Woodley given a points verdict and that’s the last title shot Thompson has received.
It’s been a bit of a struggle since that title loss five years ago. Seven fights have only produced three wins and both of his 2022 contests have ended in defeat. A disappointing year has to end with a win over Holland.
It promises to be an exciting fight and there will be a lot of bets on it, as the New York mobile bookmakers predict.
His opponent was also a kickboxer before joining the MMA ranks in 2015. He got off to a great start with four successive first round wins before being beaten in his next two fights. Holland recovered to win the XKO middleweight title in 2016.
Two successful title defenses were made before Holland moved to the UFC in 2018. His second UFC fight saw him lose to Thiago Santos but won his next three.
2020 was a year he’ll never forget with five wins in a row. That equalled the record for the most wins in a year. 2021 didn’t go so well, beginning with a defeat by Derek Brunson. Another record was on the way though as he main evented again just three weeks later but again was beaten.
October 2021 was eventful too for Holland. He took on Kyle Daukas and a clash of heads left him briefly unconscious. His opponent made him submit later in that round but a no-contest was called after the referee decided the head clash was accidental. They were due to have a rematch but Holland was injured. Perhaps if he wins this fight, that second bout with Daukas might take place.
This year has seen Holland win twice but his momentum was lost in September. He took on Khamzat Chimaev (currently ranked third) and was forced to submit in the first round. Like his opponent, he needs to end the year with a win and it would take him into the top 10 rankings.