After a week away from action, the UFC returns with a Fight Night card out of the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida.
The card is stacked to the gills with fifteen bouts at the time of writing with a top-ranked Welterweight striker’s delight between Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson and Kevin Holland in the main event. Former Lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos steps back up a weight class to take on Bryan Barbarena, while a ranked Heavyweight matchup between fan favorite slugger Tai Tuivasa and Sergei Pavlovich sits further down the main card.
Stephen Thompson vs. Kevin Holland (WW)
After suffering the first KO loss of his career to Anthony Pettis, Stephen Thompson (16-6-1, 11-6-1) rebounded with two straight decision victories over Vicente Luque and Geoff Neal. His winning ways were not to last as he dropped consecutive bouts to Gilbert Burns and Belal Muhammad, who both smothered him with top pressure. “Wonderboy” is an elite kickboxer with a high-level karate background, fighting from a side stance and firing a high volume of kicks. He has excellent usage of range, using his jab and kicks to manage the distance and often preferring to work around the outside of the Octagon. While he has a superb takedown defense rate, he can be controlled when secured on the mat.
Kevin Holland quickly saw success after moving down to 170 pounds, securing two straight finishes over Alex Oliveira and Tim Means. After stepping in on short notice opposite Khamzat Chimaev, Holland suffered a quick submission loss while capturing a major payday. “Trailblazer” has a striking heavy attack with a massive frame for the division at 6’3″. Holland makes sure to use every inch of his reach, working crisp jabs in between combos to the body and heavy kicks. While Holland is a Jiu-Jitsu black belt and very dangerous on the mat, as seen in his seven submission victories, he is often inactive from bottom position and struggles to get back to his feet. Holland has nineteen career stoppages to his name with twelve coming by knockout.
This matchup figures to be a striker’s delight between two technical fighters dangerous from anywhere. Holland is the more dangerous on the mat and will certainly look to benefit from his size advantage, along with a superior jiu-jitsu accolade in the off-chance this should go to the mat. He works in good combos and mixes up his attack, but often leaves himself open for counters with his unorthodox style. Thompson undoubtedly has the technical striking advantage here, though his volume presents a concern against the never-gunshy Holland. While Thompson’s durability at 38 does give me some concern, I like him to take a dominant decision win with cardio and technical striking advantages.
My Pick: Stephen Thompson via Decision
Rafael dos Anjos vs. Bryan Barbarena (WW)
My Pick: Rafael dos Anjos via Decision
Matheus Nicolau vs. Matt Schnell (FLW)
My Pick: Matheus Nicolau via Knockout
Tai Tuivasa vs. Sergei Pavlovich (HW)
My Pick: Tai Tuivasa via Knockout
Jack Hermansson vs. Roman Dolidze (MW)
My Pick: Jack Hermansson via Decision
Eryk Anders vs. Kyle Daukaus (MW)
My Pick: Eryk Anders via Knockout
The action gets going at 7 PM EST with the main card going live at 10 PM EST on ESPN+!