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UFC Orlando: Thompson vs. Holland - Winners and Losers

The real winners and losers from UFC Orlando

Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

The UFC Orlando fight card saw all main card bouts end early. Six fights ended by knockout or TKO and one ended via submission. Of those scraps, five concluded before the end of the second round, one went into the third stanza and the headliner, which took home “Fight of the Night” honors, wrapped up between the fourth and fifth rounds.

Stephen Thompson picked up the victory in the main event of the UFC Orlando card. An underdog to Kevin Holland, Thompson used his striking skills and Holland’s willingness to keep the fight standing to wear down his opponent and get his first win since he defeated Geoff Neal in December 2020. The victory was Thompson’s first stoppage win since he earned a TKO over Johny Hendricks in 2016. Thompson’s TKO triumph ended his two-fight losing skid while, at the same time, he handed Holland his second straight defeat.

In the co-main event, former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos made easy work of Bryan Barberena, while Sergei Pavlovich and Roman Dolidze picked up “Performance of the Night” awards for their stoppage wins.

UFC Orlando, which was broadcast on ESPN/ESPN+, took place at Amway Center. Read on for the winners and losers from the event.

Winners:

Stephen Thompson: Soon to turn 40, former two-time UFC welterweight title challenger Stephen Thompson ended his two-fight losing skid and picked up his first win since December 19, 2020, in the main event of UFC Orlando.

Thompson was the faster, more precise and more technical striker in his matchup with Kevin Holland, but he was not the more powerful striker. That lack of power seemed like it would be the difference in this fight, at least in round one. However, Thompson took advantage of Holland’s willingness to keep the fight on the feet and over time the high number of strikes Thompson landed wore down and perhaps literally broke something in Holland (his hand?).

Thompson never slowed his pace over the four rounds the bout lasted. Meanwhile, Holland’s attempted strike numbers dipped over each round, starting with a high of 70 in Round 1 and ending with just 24 in the fourth.

Holland fought to Thompson’s strengths and Thompson took advantage of that fact. While the two men who recently beat him, Belal Muhammad and Gilbert Burns combined for ten takedowns and over 19 minutes in control time in their three-round bouts against Thompson, Holland was determined to keep the fight standing. That was a mistake in Holland’s game plan and Thompson made him pay.

Bob Perez: Kevin Holland’s corner waved off the fight between the fourth and fifth rounds (perhaps at Holland’s request). Holland was hurt, discouraged and running low on stamina. Holland’s coach Bob Perez was the one who informed the ref the fight was over. He made the right call by not trying to talk his fighter into going back out there hoping to score the hail Mary finish. I would like to believe other corners will follow suit, but the odds of that happening are close to zero — and that’s a shame.

Rafael dos Anjos: Rafael dos Anjos might not be in the mix for a title shot after 14 years in the UFC, but he’s still a high-level fighter, which he showed by scoring a dominant second-round submission win over Bryan Barberena.

With the time he spent inside the octagon on Saturday, Dos Anjos became the first fighter in UFC history to rack up more than eight hours of total fight time.

Also, Dos Anjos’ post-fight call out of Conor McGregor makes sense. Sure, it’s not the fight we would have seen when the UFC initially booked it in 2016, but it’s still a fight worth seeing in 2022.

Matheus Nicolau: Matheus Nicolau scored the first knockout win of his UFC career on Saturday, running over Matt Schnell. After the win, his sixth straight victory, Nicolau told UFC commentator Daniel Cormier that he had fought out his contract on the UFC Orlando card. Nicolau was the No. 6 fighter in the official UFC flyweight division heading into this event, with the ease in which he dispatched the No. 7 ranked Schnell, the promotion would be foolish to let the rising Nicolau walk in a division that is desperate for new title challengers.

Sergei Pavlovich: When a heavyweight fighter has 13 knockout wins in 16 career victories, it’s safe to assume that fighter has faith in his hands and chin. On Saturday, Sergei Pavlovich picked up his 14th career knockout win, stopping Tai Tuivasa in the first round. The knockout was the third straight first-round KO for the 30-year-old in 2022 — he also decked Derrick Lewis and Shamil Abdurakhimov. What makes Pavlovich’s 2022 more noteworthy is the fact that he was out of action from October 2019 through March of this year because of injuries and visa issues.

Don’t be surprised to hear Pavlovich’s name bandied about as the UFC looks to figure out what’s happening at the top of its heavyweight division in 2023.

Roman Dolidze: With knockout wins over Phil Hawes and Kyle Daukaus earlier this year, Roman Dolidze was developing a reputation as a feared striker in the UFC’s middleweight division. Well, he got his third straight knockout win on Saturday, stopping Jack Hermansson in the second round, but his grappling skills set up that ground strike stoppage.

Dolidze’s aggressive ground game from his back was a thing of beauty. First, he attacked Hermansson’s leg, which he transitioned to a triangle attempt and then back to a leg attack when Hermansson popped his head free, which set up a calf slicer. That technique immobilized Hermansson face down on the mat, allowing Dolidze to tee off with strikes to the head.

Hermansson entered this contest as the No. 8 ranked middleweight. It will be interesting to see where Dolidze, who was unranked, lands when the official UFC rankings are updated.

Eryk Anders: Eryk Anders, who was an underdog to Kyle Daukaus on the UFC Orlando card, made a statement on Saturday. The 35-year-old ended a two-fight losing skid by positively overwhelming Daukaus in the striking department. The finish was the first knockout win for Anders since 2019. The victory should be a huge confidence boost for the former LFA middleweight champ, who opened his MMA career on a 10-0 run.

With his win over Daukaus, Anders moved to 15-7-0-1 overall.

Philip Rowe: Phillip Rowe had a good first two rounds against Niko Price, but things went sideways for him in the third stanza as Price turned up the pressure and seemed close to wrapping up the fight via his striking. However, Rowe took what Price gave him and then capitalized on Price’s empty gas tank to get the knockout win. Rowe’s stoppage victory was a big win, but he missed weight for the scheduled welterweight bout. Price has been overweight in two of his four UFC fights.

Angela Hill: The soon-to-be 38-year-old Angela Hill delivered one of the better performances of her UFC career on Saturday, scoring a one-sided decision win over Emily Ducote.

Hill controlled the pace and range of the strawweight contest, attempting 345 significant strikes while landing 52 percent of those strikes. With her win, Hill picked up her first winning streak since she won three straight in 2019-2020.

Clay Guida: One day the cardio of the soon to be 41-year-old Clay Guida will fail. December 3, 2022 was not that day.

Jonathan Pearce: It seems as if the UFC is pretty high on Jonathan Pearce. Following his “Performance of the Night” TKO win over Makwan Amirkhani in July, the promotion booked Pearce opposite Darren Elkins. Pearce was one of the card’s biggest favorites, and while he didn’t get the stoppage over Elkins, he picked the veteran fighter apart and dominated him in a bloody fight that Pearce won via decision. The 30-year-old is now on a five-fight winning streak.

Natan Levy and Genaro Valdez: The lightweight bout between Natan Levy and Genaro Valdez was a fun fight. Levy was the better striker, but Valdez’s ability to take damage and keep coming back kept things interesting.

Francis Marshall: Francis Marshall made his UFC debut on Saturday in Orlando. In the early moments of the fight the 23-year-old did not look comfortable or confident. He showed good counters, but he sat back and allowed his opponent, Marcelo Rojo, to lead the dance. However, Marshall’s demeanor changed when he found success on the mat in the second half of the first stanza.

Marshall was much more aggressive and confident to start the second round and that aggression led to his nasty knockout win. The New Jersey-based fighter is coached by former UFC competitor Kurt Pellegrino, whose experience in the game should be a big help for the developing Marshall, who moved to 7-0 with his win on Saturday

Yazmin Jauregui: Istela Nunes knocked down Yazmin Jauregui in the first round, but Jauregui recovered quickly, got right back into action, and pressed forward. That’s what you want to see from a young and developing fighter. Jauregui was very aggressive on the feet and her ground striking was unrelenting and led to her getting the stoppage win.

I was surprised to see the 23-year-old so low on this card following her impressive UFC debut in August. With her win, Jauregui moved to 10-0. Jauregui is a young fighter to keep an eye on in the strawweight division.

Losers:

Dan Miragliotta: Referee Dan Miragliotta had a bad night. First, he paused the Darren Elkins vs. Jonathan Pearce fight so the doctor could look at a cut near Elkins’ eye and then restarted the fight on the feet instead of with Pearce inside Elkins’ guard near the center of the octagon. Then, in the main event, he waved off the matchup between Stephen Thompson and Kevin Holland in the fourth round before changing his mind and calling for a time out for a low blow. UFC Orlando was not Dan Miragliotta’s best performance.

Kevin Holland: Kevin Holland’s willingness to entertain might have come back to bite him in the main event of the UFC Orlando fight card. Holland had a couple of opportunities to fight to Thompson’s weakness on the mat during their welterweight bout. Instead, he backed off and elected to fight to Thompson’s strength on the feet. That cost him dearly as Thompson’s accuracy, technique and ability to land his strikes at a rate of 62 percent.

I understand that Holland’s appeal has a lot to do with putting on entertaining fights, but when you’re an unranked fighter with the chance to beat a fighter ranked inside the top 10, which Thompson was at No. 6. sometimes the smart thing to do is fight to win. Holland did not do that.

Tai Tuivasa: Tai Tuivasa’s willingness to throw caution to the wind has made him a fan favorite, but that style might not be the wisest approach when facing the best fighters in the UFC’s heavyweight division. Tuivasa’s inclination to go forward and swing for the fences when he’s hurt cost him on Saturday against Sergei Pavlovich.

Emily Ducote: For a fighter who was very active in her UFC debut - a win over Jessica Penne, Emily Ducote couldn’t seem to get her striking going in her sophomore outing. In the Penne fight, Ducote connected on 56 percent of her significant strike attempts. However, that number dropped to 41 percent vs. Angela Hill.

Scott Holtzman: Prior to UFC Orlando, the 39-year-old Scott Holtzman announced his fight opposite Clay Guida would be his last. Holtzman, who was favored over Guida, dropped a split decision. He wraps up his MMA career on a three-fight losing skid and a career record of 14-6.

The question now becomes, will Holtzman’s retirement stick?

Marc Diakiese: With his decision loss to Michael Johnson, Marc Diakiese has not won three fights in a row since 2016-17 when he opened his UFC career on a 3-0 run and moved his pro record to 12-0. Following UFC Orlando, the 29-year-old is 16-6 overall.

Darren Elkins: The 38-year-old Darren Elkins is a tough dude, but he’s at the point in his career where the UFC will use him as chum for young and hungry fighters who are better than he is at this point in his career and its not fun to watch.

Istela Nunes: Istela Nunes is not a bad striker, but she struggles when forced to fight off her back foot. That’s exactly how Yazmin Jauregui made her fight in this contest and that’s one of the big reasons Nunes was on the wrong end of a knockout.

UFC matchmakers: The UFC eats its own. It’s very rare when a veteran fighter on the downside of their career is matched up against an opponent at the same point. The matchmaking of the Darren Elkins vs. Jonathan Pearce was a reminder of how the UFC treats its veteran competitors. And how it treats them is not well.

Jon Anik: Prior to Eryk Anders’ fight against Kyle Daukaus, UFC commentator Jon Anik tried to quote Satchel Paige, but instead, he quoted the band Boston. Satchel Paige’s famous quote is,” Don’t look back, something might be gaining on you.” Boston has a song (and album) titled “Don’t look back.”