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Thompson beats Holland in Fight of the Year contender

Jeff Bottari / UFC / Getty

Stephen Thompson turned back the clock to produce a masterclass performance against Kevin Holland in the UFC Fight Night main event Saturday.

Thompson won the Fight of the Year contender via TKO after Holland's corner stopped the contest following the fourth round. "Trailblazer" appeared to injure his right hand, forcing his coaches to end the bout.

It was an anticlimactic finish to an all-action fight that, as expected, took place almost exclusively on the feet.

Thompson and Holland fought at an incredible pace from the moment the matchup began. They also engaged in friendly banter throughout the bout after a lead-up in which both professed their respect for one another.

Holland came out more aggressive, landing a heavy right hand that hurt his opponent and helped earn him the first round on all the judges' scorecards.

But Thompson responded in the second, attacking with his patented high kicks and forcing Holland onto his back foot. The crowd in Orlando cheered as Holland casually allowed Thompson back up to his feet after they both tripped to the ground, signaling his desire to keep the fight a stand-up affair.

Holland then showed off his power with a shot that sent Thompson stumbling. But the veteran came back quickly to land his own damaging shots at the end of the stanza.

Thompson picked up the pace in the third, with Holland eating several heavy blows. "Wonderboy" started attempting more spinning leg attacks in the round before landing a series of pinpoint accurate kicks in the fourth that seemed to hurt Holland.

The bout appeared to be over at one point in the fourth. The referee initially waved the fight over with Thompson firing off shots at Holland up against the fence but switched to a timeout after it became clear Holland took a groin strike.

The 39-year-old Thompson nearly managed to earn a finish at the end of the round, mounting Holland and raining down shots as the bell sounded.

Thompson, who entered the fight at No. 6 in the welterweight rankings, snapped a two-bout losing streak with the victory.

Holland has now lost two in a row after being manhandled by Khamzat Chimaev at UFC 279 in September.

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