Stephen Thompson defeated Kevin Holland in an entertaining main event bout at UFC Orlando that earned both welterweights Fight of the Night bonuses. 'Wonderboy' recently opened up about some in-cage mid-fight conversations he had with Holland during their explosive bout.
Holland, unofficially nicknamed 'Big Mouth', is known for talking to his opponents inside the cage. Speaking to Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour, Thompson revealed some of the interactions he had with Holland during their fight:
"The first round, I ended up falling down. I think our legs got tied up, I tripped and fell. He stood us back up and said, 'No takedowns today, I'm not going to be shooting today.' We had some pretty cool conversations out there. When I would throw a kick or a punch and he would say that would hurt and I would be like, 'Oh, I'm sorry.'"
"I pretty much said I was sorry the entire time I was out there. 'Oh, I'm sorry man, I'm sorry man.' I thought I hit him in the groin, completely apologized for that. He would say little things out there like, 'I'm not going to take you down' or 'slow down a little bit.' He told me to slow down a little bit which in my mind told me I should pick it back up, I should pick up the pace, but little things like that."
The fight between Stephen Thompson and Kevin Holland was ultimately cut short following the fourth-round as the latter was no longer able to proceed due to a broken hand suffered in the first round.
Watch Stephen Thompson's comments (1:07:00) below:
Stephen Thompson reveals the opponent that the UFC offered him prior to Kevin Holland
Stephen Thompson and Kevin Holland put together one of the most entertaining striking bouts of the year at UFC Orlando. Prior to facing Holland, however, 'Wonderboy' revealed that the UFC offered him Shavkat Rakhmonov. The No.6-ranked welterweight shared why he didn't take the fight.
Speaking to Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour, Thompson said (1:13:50):
"They asked me to fight Shavkat... the UFC's telling me this guy's a striker, that he's just going to stand there and strike... That's not what the fans want to see. They pretty much booed the last two fights, and they were boring because my opponents, all they did was shoot and just hold me. I don't know any fan that would want to sit there and watch that kind of Stephen 'Wonderboy' Thompson fight."
While Rakhmonov has shown that he has the ability to strike at a high-level, he is also dominant on the ground, as he specializes in sambo. Facing an opponent like Thompson with elite-level striking, it is unlikely that the No.10-ranked welterweight would have kept the fight on the feet as Holland did.
Rakhmonov will take on Geoff Neal in the first UFC event of 2023.