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USA Today Sports Media Group
Mike Bohn

Michael Bisping critical of Kevin Holland’s ego in UFC on ESPN 42 loss: ‘That was not high fight IQ’

It was certainly entertaining to watch, but in terms of getting the desired result, Michael Bisping argues Kevin Holland did himself no favors at UFC on ESPN 42.

Holland (23-9 MMA, 9-6 UFC) suffered his first loss since his drop to welterweight Saturday when a fourth-round TKO by corner stoppage brought his night to an end against Stephen Thompson (17-6-1 MMA, 12-6-1 UFC) at Amway Center in Orlando, Fla.

After a competitive first round, an apparent Holland broken hand altered the trajectory of the fight. He was unable to throw at the rate he wanted, and that allowed “Wonderboy” to take over, rack up the damage and push the action to the point Holland and his team decided it wasn’t worth going to a fifth round.

Well before then, though, Holland had a chance to make it a lot more competitive by implementing some grappling. He refused, however, and opted to stand up each time a potential grappling exchange commenced. From the perspective of UFC Hall of Famer Bisping, who was cageside calling the event with Daniel Cormier and Jon Anik, that was a poor tactic.

“We see all the time, people say, ‘The first one to shoot is a coward,'” Bisping said during the UFC on ESPN 42 post-fight show on ESPN+. “Then guess what? People shoot, because you know what, it’s allowed in the rules. It’s a mixed martial arts contest. This was one of the first times, and maybe the only time, I’ve actually seen somebody truly live up to that.

“Kevin Holland had top position, clearly, a couple of times (and) he was like, ‘No, no, no. We’re going to strike. That’s what we came here to do.’ I believe he will regret that decision going forward because that was his ego getting the better of him.”

Holland prides himself on delivering action to the fans, and he certainly delivered in that respect with another Fight of the Night. Thompson said post-fight the pair had an “unwritten” agreement not to exchange on the mat, which obviously played out to his advantage.

As a result, Holland now has back-to-back losses on his record and fell to 0-3 in UFC main events. Those are red flags about where his ceiling could be in terms of career potential, and Bisping can’t see any dramatic changes in results unless Holland opts to alter his approach.

“This is not a popularity contest in terms of, ‘Oh, everyone thinks I’m a real badass guy,'” Bisping said. “No, you come here to win a fight. This is high stakes. Do you want to be a champion? Do you want to earn a lot of money? Do you want to be known as one of the best fighters in the world, or a guy who puts on a show and possibly gives away a victory? That was not high fight IQ.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC on ESPN 42.

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