Stephen Thompson stops Kevin Holland, stays in UFC title picture

Thompson, Holland put on potential Fight of the Year candidate (1:00)

Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson and Kevin Holland give the Orlando fans their money's worth in the main event of UFC Fight Night. (1:00)

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Don't write Stephen Thompson out of the welterweight title picture just yet.

Thompson (17-6-1) earned one of the biggest wins of his career Saturday, stopping Kevin Holland (23-9) in the fourth round via TKO.

Holland's head coach, Bob Perez, waved off the fight between the fourth and fifth rounds, as it was clear Holland was suffering from an injury to his right hand. The welterweight fight headlined UFC Fight Night inside Amway Center.

For Thompson, 39, it was his first win since December 2020. He dropped back-to-back fights against Gilbert Burns and Belal Muhammad in 2021 before sitting out most of 2022.

"My last two performances, I lost to grapplers," Thompson said. "I wanted to show the UFC, the fans, 'Wonderboy' is still here. I feel like I'm 25. I'm still in for the long haul, and I've still got it."

The 170-pound contest was an even, back-and-forth affair for the first two rounds, before Thompson started to assert himself in the third and fourth. Holland actually hurt Thompson with a heavy right hand in the opening round and had some success with elbows and punches in the clinch. As the fight progressed, however, Thompson's longer strikes proved more effective.

Thompson hurt Holland with kicks to the midsection and head in the third round and blitzed him with punches along the fence. The left body kick visibly hurt Holland again in the fourth round. He tried to play it off, but the damage was apparent and his offensive output declined to essentially nothing as he turned more and more defensive.

"I think I hurt [the right hand] in the first round, and after that it was just hurting," Holland said. "It is what it is."

Despite the two losses in 2021, Thompson went into Saturday's contest tied as UFC's No. 6-ranked welterweight. He holds wins over Geoff Neal, who is also tied for the No. 6 ranking, and Vicente Luque, who is ranked No. 9. Saturday was Thompson's sixth knockout in UFC, which is tied for the most knockouts in UFC welterweight history.

According to UFC Stats, Thompson outlanded Holland in total strikes 145-102. Holland took Thompson down several times, usually in a scramble after both were off balance in their strikes, but he repeatedly let Thompson back to his feet rather than try to keep him on the floor.

A former middleweight, Holland suffered his first loss as a welterweight.

Defending UFC champion Leon Edwards, who won the championship in August, does not have his first title defense booked, although he is expected to face Kamaru Usman in a trilogy bout in early 2023.