UFC Orlando went down last Sat. night (Dec. 3, 2022) in Orlando, Fla., blowing the roof off Amway Center in what truly was an exciting night of fights. In fact, all seven main card fights ended in finishes, leaving several fighters feeling the post-fight blues.
Among them was Bryan Barberena, who was submitted by Rafael dos Anjos (recap here). And Tai Tuivasa, who suffered his second straight knockout loss after he was stopped by Sergei Pavlovich in under a minute (highlights). But which fighter is suffering from the worst post-fight hangover, now a few days removed from the show?
Coming into his headlining fight against Stephen Thompson, Holland was hoping to erase the memory of his first-round submission defeat at the hands of Khamzat Chimaev at UFC 279. Instead, “Trailblazer” found himself the loser of two straight after his corner stopped the fight in the fourth round as a result of a broken hand that was preventing him from popping off the offensive volume he’s accustomed to.
Things started off relatively well for “Big Mouth,” who touched up Thompson on a few occasions. But once “Wonderboy” started finding his rhythm, especially with his kicking attack, he got comfortable and started letting it all hang out. In doing so, Holland ate several big shots. Furthermore, his broken hand took even more damage every time he tried to block one of Thompson’s kicks.
There were a couple of occasions when Holland had the opportunity to stay in top position but decided to let Thompson back up, probably as a result of a gentlemen’s agreement they had to keep the fight standing to please the fans. That move may have cost him dearly because having the weight advantage over Thompson could have paid dividends for him had he decided to maintain position.
“We see all the time, people say, ‘The first one to shoot is a coward,’” Bisping said during the UFC Orlando post-fight show on ESPN+. “But then guess what, people shoot, because you know what, it’s allowed in the rules. It’s a mixed martial arts contest. This was one of the first times, and maybe the only time, I’ve actually seen somebody truly live up to that.
“Kevin Holland had top position. Clearly. A couple of times, he was like, ‘No, no, no. We’re going to strike. That’s what we came here to do.’ I believe he will regret that decision going forward, because that was his ego getting the better of him.
“This is not a popularity contest in terms of, ‘Oh, everyone thinks I’m a real badass guy.’ No, you come here to win a fight. This is high stakes. Do you want to be a champion? Do you want to earn a lot of money? Do you want to be known as one of the best fighters in the world, or a guy who puts on a show and possibly gives away a victory. That was not high fight IQ.”
As for what’s next for the talkative welterweight, that’s a bit of a tough one to figure out. Prior to his fight against Thompson he had called it a day in MMA. But that didn’t last too long, leading many pundits to believe he was simply trolling fight fans. In the week leading up to the event he teased another retirement if Khamzat Chimaev was awarded a title shot, which leads us to wonder where exactly his head is at.
Holland is just 30 years old but in four years with UFC he has competed a whopping 17 times, which comes to about four times a year. That’s a lot of fighting, so perhaps he’s a bit burnt out.
When you take into consideration that he suffered three breaks in his right hand, his timeline for a return could be an extended one, and the landscape at 170 pounds will be drastically different by the time he makes his return in 2023. That said, it’s hard to predict who we can pair him up with since there is no telling how long he’ll be out.
In the meantime, we leave it to you to put on your matchmaker hat on to give use some predictions or hopes regarding possible future matchups for Holland in the comment section below.
For complete UFC Orlando results and coverage click here.