Thompson-Holland Headlines UFC’s Return to Orlando
Two of the UFC’s nicest guys face each other for the UFC’s first event in Orlando in over four years. Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson and Kevin “Big Mouth” Holland are looking to bounce back from defeats in this main event. The Thompson vs Holland odds favors the younger and bigger Holland as Thompson will look to come through as an underdog – something he has not been in a long time.
Stephen Thompson (16-6-1) vs Kevin Holland (23-8-0)
Date, time (TV):
Location: Amway Center, Orlando, Florida, United States
Streaming: Live Stream Sports
Thompson, the “NMF” Enters as Rare Underdog
It isn’t always that you see Thompson, a two-time title challenger – to be capped as an underdog in a fight. But the self-proclaimed “Nice-Ass Motherf–r” (a play on the UFC’s “Badass Motherf–r” gimmick title) enters as a +130 underdog against Holland.
The first and last time Thompson was an underdog was in 2016 when he fought former champion, Johny Hendricks. He made short work of the wrestler and knocked him out in one round. Since then, Thompson’s UFC fight night betting odds were routinely in the negative or at a pick’em price at their longest.
But now, Thompson looks to be past his prime. He’s lost two straight and is 2-4 in his last six fights. Moreover, Thompson was dominated in his last two fights albeit by wrestlers. But against Holland, Thompson is going up against a massive fighter – a guy who is as big as light heavyweights. Thus, the Thompson vs Holland odds is fairly against him.
Thompson has overcome the odds before as he did against Hendricks. He also got hurt badly against Tyron Woodley but held up and fought the former champion to a draw. But given where the division is and how he is performing, the 39-year-old is closer to retirement than a title shot.
“I listen to my coach. My dad has been a part of my camps since day one. And he probably knows me more than I know myself,” Thompson told Shakiel Mahjouri in an interview with CBS Sports. “Me being a fighter, I’m gonna keep fighting and will ignore sometimes the fact that maybe we shouldn’t. So when he says I’m done, I’m done.”
Holland Talks the Talk and Walks the Walk
Meanwhile, Holland is heading in the opposite direction of Thompson. And if the Thompson vs Holland odds prove accurate, he will take his spot in the division as a future title contender. Called “Loud Mouth”, Holland got that moniker not only because he trash-talks before the fight, but because he does it during the fight.
But as much as Holland runs his mouth, he’s not all talk. The 30-year-old already has 10 wins in the UFC. He achieved the rare feat of winning five fights in one calendar year in 2020. Among his most notable wins include the likes of former top-five middleweight Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza.
It was a matchup that feels similar to this one. Souza was also on a two-fight losing streak and Holland was “catching” him on his way down. But although Souza was a top-tier grappler, which was Holland’s Kryptonite, the Californian managed to knock him out while being on his knees. It was a unique KO that put Holland’s name on the map.
Now, at 170 pounds, Holland is looking to make a name for himself in the division by taking out a fighter like Thompson.
“Talk about a guy that’s fought for a world title, that’s fought some of the best out there at the top of the weight class for a long time,” Holland told reporters at backstage of UFC 281 a few weeks ago. “If you do want a number next to your name, you have to go through somebody like that.”