UFC Orlando got out to a fast start with a pair of second-round finishes, but a long stretch of decisions after that resulted in the night’s featured prelim between Niko Price and Phil Rowe getting pushed to the main card.
That welterweight contest ended up kicking off a run of seven-straight stoppages, and at the end of the night the main card accounted for the event’s Fight of the Night and both of the Performance of the Night bonuses.
Performances Of The Night
Perhaps no fighter entered UFC Orlando with more to gain than Roman Dolidze, and the Georgian made good on the opportunity with a second-round TKO against Jack Hermansson.
The middleweight matchup was highlighted as this week’s Sleeper Scrap, largely due to the fact that Dolidze took the fight less than a month after his last win and was facing the #8-ranked Hermansson. After a difficult first round where “The Joker” relied on his kicking game to frustrate the Georgian, things took a turn in the second round once the fight went to the mat.
Hermansson hit a takedown in the center of the cage with little resistance, but the 34-year-old quickly found himself fending off submission attempts. Dolidze used the ensuing scramble to secure a calf slicer and flatten Hermansson out, which allowed the Georgian to land punches until the ref finally stepped in.
Dolidze entered UFC Orlando as an unranked middleweight, but the 34-year-old should soon have a number next to his name to go along with the $50K he pocketed for his fourth-straight win.
Immediately following Dolidze’s victory, Sergei Pavlovich extended his run of first-round finishes when he stopped Tai Tuivasa less than a minute into their heavyweight matchup.
Tuivasa entered the night looking to avoid back-to-back losses after being stopped by Ciryl Gane in September, but the Australian quickly found himself in trouble against Pavlovich. The Russian showed little regard for the wild counter strikes coming back from Tuivasa as he continually landed punches that eventually put “Bam Bam” on the canvas.
Fight Of The Night
The welterweight bout between Phil Rowe and Niko Price was the likely frontrunner for the UFC Orlando Fight of the Night until the main event between Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson and Kevin Holland stole the show.
The 39-year-old Thompson entered the night on a two-fight losing streak that saw him lined as the underdog to Holland, and early on it looked as if the power of the younger man would be the difference in the matchup.
“Wonderboy” survived some difficult early moments to take control as the bout went on, and things took a significant turn when Holland appeared to suffer a hand injury that severely compromised his offensive output. “The Trail Blazer” displayed some incredible toughness and absorbed all kinds of punishment from Thompson, including some huge left hands and a seemingly never-ending barrage of kicks.
Holland’s corner ended up stopping the fight between the fourth and fifth rounds, but both men put on an incredible show and more than earned their Fight of the Night bonuses for closing out UFC Orlando.
What are your thoughts on the bonus winners from UFC Orlando?