Thiago Santos emerged victorious over Kevin Holland, but it wasn’t easy.

The opening bout on the main card of UFC 227 featured a middleweight battle between Santos and Holland. The two shared the Octagon inside Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.

Santos threw a knee early in the fight. Holland went for a kick, but it was caught. Holland went for a flying omoplata. He transitioned to an armbar, but Santos got out and rained down bombs. Holland was able to avoid damage. Santos threw some heavy elbows. Holland landed some elbows off his back. Santos got up and Holland went for an upkick. Santos kept dropping heavy shots, but Holland appeared to have solid defense. Santos allowed Holland to stand back up. Holland’s left eye was causing him problems. The round ended with Santos grabbing a hold of his opponent.

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Round two began and Holland was accidentally kicked in the groin. Holland quickly got back to the action. A head kick attempt had Holland stumbling back. Santos shot in and took his opponent down. Santos went for an arm triangle, but Holland escaped and the fight returned to the center of the Octagon. A hard body kick landed for Santos. Holland landed a spinning back fist followed by a knee. Holland went for a kimura and used the position to land elbows. Round two ended with Holland in top control.

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Santos went high with a kick early in the final frame. A trip takedown was there for Santos. He went for the arm triangle again. He thought better of it and went for some ground-and-pound. Santos threw heavy left hands and an elbow. He stuffed a takedown attempt. Santos secured full mount. Again, Santos went for the arm triangle. Holland escaped once again. The final horn sounded. Santos won the fight via unanimous decision, but Holland’s heart certainly won’t soon be forgotten.

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Final Result: Thiago Santos def. Kevin Holland via unanimous decision (29-27, 29-27, 29-26)