UFC Fight Night: Thompson vs. Holland is set to get underway this Saturday at the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla. For a non-numbered event, this card is stacked with plenty of high-profile fights and title contenders.
The main event should be a thriller between welterweight contenders Stephen Thompson (currently the No. 6 welterweight) and Kevin Holland (unranked, but he just moved down to 170 this year after previously fighting at 185). After this fight opened as a pick-’em, Holland has been bet up to -165.
UFC Fight Night Prediction & Odds
Thompson is coming off two straight losses via unanimous decision to Belal Muhammad and Gilbert Burns, although those are two of the best that the welterweight division has to offer. Currently, Muhammad is the No. 4 contender, while Burns is No. 5.
Bursting onto the scene in 2012, Thompson won eight of his first nine fights, including a victory over the current No. 2 middleweight contender Robert Whittaker. With a strong kickboxing background, Thompson’s striking propelled him to title fights against Tyron Woodley. The first fight ended in a draw while Thompson lost the second via majority decision. While some may only know Woodley from his knockout loss to Jake Paul in a “boxing” match, he used to be the best welterweight on the planet for a solid amount of time until Kamaru Usman arrived.
Fighting at the top of the division ever since the Woodley fights, Thompson has some marquee wins over the likes of Jorge Masvidal, Geoff Neal and Vicente Luque. He also has a pair of losses to Anthony Pettis and Darren Till,
His resume speaks for itself, fighting almost every top guy in the division over the last five years. What sets him apart is his technical striking, landing 3.90 strikes per minute at 43% accuracy and defending at a 56% clip.
Preferring to keep fights standing, Thompson boasts a 63% takedown defense. However, both of his last two losses to Muhammad and Burns were because he struggled to defend the takedown.
Holland is coming directly off his loss to Khamzat Chimaev in September at UFC 279, although that loss means absolutely nothing in regard to Holland’s ability. The fight was put together last minute when Chimaev weighed in far too heavily for his originally scheduled fight against Nate Diaz, so the UFC worked will all the main card fighters to re-arrange the fights to keep the event intact.
Being the company man that he is, Holland stepped up and took on Chimaev knowing that there was absolutely no chance he was going to survive against the larger Chimaev, who also happens to be the most threatening contender in the UFC, regardless of weight class. Holland got tossed around the Octagon like a child, getting submitted within 2 1/2 minutes.
Again, that fight means absolutely nothing in regard to Holland’s ability — Chimaev is a different beast. However, the one thing that can be used against Holland is that he has not fought nearly the level of competition in the 170 weight class as Thompson has.
Since dropping down to 170, Holland is 2-0 with wins over Alex Oliveira and Tim Means, two unranked fighters in the welterweight division. Holland undoubtedly deserves the shot against a ranked opponent, but jumping all the way up and fighting the No. 6 contender is most likely a thank-you gift from Dana White for taking the Chimaev fight.
Thompson vs. Holland Prediction
This fight is likely to stay standing. Thompson is a far superior striker than he is a grappler, while Holland will look to utilize his size and power to finish his opponent.
Holland’s most logical path to victory is via KO/TKO. Coming down from the middleweight division, Holland is bringing a whole lot of power and size with him. However, Thompson’s striking IQ may be too much to overcome. Thompson is great at avoiding highly damaging shots, having been knocked out just once over his 10-year UFC career.
At plus money, take the more experienced and technical striker to take care of business against an opponent that is largely unproven against big names in the 170 division.
Best UFC Fight Night Bet: Stephen Thompson Moneyline (+140) at DraftKings