A bout between explosive welterweights marks the UFC’s return to the Sunshine State on Saturday night when Stephen Thompson trades fists with Kevin Holland in the main event of UFC Orlando. Read on for our Thompson-Holland UFC picks and predictions.
This could be Thompson’s last stand. As overdramatic as that sounds, the 39-year-old is entering the twilight of his career, and a loss to Holland would likely jettison him out of the 170-pound title picture permanently. He limps into this bout following a pair of losses in 2021, dropping decisions to Gilbert Burns and Belal Muhammad.
Following a brief “retirement,” Holland returns to the cage fresh off a loss to Khamzat Chimaev at UFC 279. Fortunately for Holland, the stink of a loss never lingered, as he was a musical-chairs style last-minute replacement, and his bout against Chimaev was more or less a favor to the UFC that helped save the entire card.
Prior to the Chimaev loss, Holland racked up consecutive stoppages of Alex Oliveira and Tim Means, and he could find himself in the top 10 if he completely lays waste to “Wonderboy.”
Thompson vs. Holland Fight Info
Date: Saturday, Dec. 3, 10 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN +
Location: Amway Center, Orlando, FL
Thompson vs. Holland Odds
(odds via FanDuel)
|Over/Under||Over 4.5 rounds (+136)||Under 4.5 rounds (-174)|
Thompson vs. Holland Picks
Who will win Thompson vs. Holland?
Thompson (+145) ★★★★
As this is a bit of a pick ‘em fight, I think you’ll get the most value in backing the underdog. With his raw striking numbers being somewhat skewed due to higher level of competition, Wonderboy is the sharper, more polished striker, and he’ll hang back looking to batter Holland with counter strikes from the outside. Holland has knockout power and the grappling chops to pull out a submission if this fight hits the mat, but I feel like he’ll eventually get too impatient as Thompson plies his trade from distance.
I expect a frustrated Holland to get tired of waiting for Thompson, get sloppy coming in, and get caught with some slick counters.
Thompson vs. Holland O/U
Over 2.5 rounds (-140) ★★★★
Thompson averages more than 14-and-a-half minutes of cage time per fight, and has gone to the judge’s scorecards in nine of his past 10 trips to the Octagon. Although he possesses legitimate knockout power, his counter-heavy game can lead to a lot of standing and staring, eating up quite a bit of cage time.
Holland’s last three fights have been stoppages, but Thompson’s style doesn’t really lend itself to quick finishes. Instead, he’ll likely be content with picking his spots, and launching artillery from the outside. It sometimes leads to long stretches of nothing, which is good if you’re backing this bout to pass the midway point.
Of course, there’s always the chance Holland uncorks a violent, scintillating knockout a la Anthony Pettis over Thompson, but even that bout lasted until the waning moments of the second stanza.
Thompson vs. Holland Winning Method
Thompson via decision (+390) ★★★★
As I mentioned earlier, Thompson’s gone the distance in four straight bouts, and nine of his past 10. I expect more of the same on Saturday night. A veteran of many wars with the elite at welterweight, Thompson will likely stick to outside counters, satisfied with picking Holland apart from afar.
The only way I see Wonderboy getting a finish is if an exasperated Holland tires of Thompson’s patience, gets a little too aggressive, and leaves himself vulnerable. If that’s the case, I can see Wonderboy catching him with a vicious, laser-guided counter on his way in.
Otherwise, Thompson’s gonna Thompson, and he’ll outwork Holland over 25 minutes en route to a unanimous decision victory.
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Thompson-Holland picks made 12/2/2022 at 1 p.m. ET.