Sure, this is mixed martial arts — but sometimes both fans and fighters alike just want to see a stand-up war.
This is exactly what we got on Saturday night when Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson triumphed over Kevin Holland in what was one of the most eye-catching bouts of the year to top the UFC’s latest card in Orlando, Florida — and save for one takedown attempt by Holland towards the end of the fight when he had a damaged hand, the bout was almost entirely contested on the feet.
And speaking to the media, including TheMacLife, afterwards, Thompson said that both men had a verbal agreement to abandon any plans they might have had for grappling.
“It was kind of one of those unwritten rules we had going into this fight,” Thompson said. “I know later on he was shooting, he had a busted hand, but I think I fell down in the first round, and he let me back up. He told me in the first round, ‘I’m not taking you down.’ All right, sounds good to me. It was kind of one of those handshakes we had in the first round, nobody was going to go down.
“At the end, he started to shoot, and I was like, ‘Hey, I thought you weren’t going to shoot!’” Thompson added. “And he was like, ‘I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do.’”
Thompson also explained that fighting Holland is a unique experience. His style is a fun one, he said, but also the back-and-forth conversations in the cage are something of a rarity in top level mixed martial arts.
“He was telling me to slow down, and I was telling him I’m sorry the entire time,” Thompson said. “He was like, ‘You got me good,’ I was like ‘I’m sorry, man!’ It was fun. He’s hilarious. Whenever we head butted each other, he was like, ‘Oh man, I’m sorry,’ and I was like, ‘No, man, it’s OK, keep fighting, keep fighting,’” Thompson said. “We had some fun conversations in there.
“We wouldn’t have put on a good show if it wasn’t for him as well. I appreciate Kevin.”