After a year and a half of stops and starts Teddy Holder kept his foot on the gas and capitalized on a once in a lifetime opportunity last night at WSOF 19. Holder was originally set to face Jake Heun in a light heavyweight tournament reserve bout but just four hours from showtime the Henderson, TN native was offered a spot in the co-main event against former UFC light heavyweight #1 contender Thiago Silva.
“A few hours before the show my phone rang,” explained Holder. “We were just about to leave to go to the venue. The World Series matchmaker told me that Matt Hamill had gotten sick and pulled out of his fight with Silva and asked me if I wanted it. I didn’t know what to think. We were a few hours from showtime and I was prepared to fight Jake Heun. I told him I’d call him back in a few minutes. I talked to Andy (Uhrich), my manager, and David (Ferguson) and decided to take it. I had nothing to lose. The opportunity was too good to pass up.”
Coming into WSOF 19 Holder hadn’t competed since August 2013. Ring rust wasn’t a factor as he pushed the pace for most of the fight and wound up getting a knockout of Silva in just two minutes.
“I felt I pushed the pace,” said Holder. “I had Thiago Silva backing up. That was big for my confidence. He hit me with some leg kicks but I answered those with some of my own. I was looking for the knockout.”
The fight wasn’t a cakewalk for “The Hitman”. Silva landed some ferocious leg kicks and hit him with a big right that seemed to do some damage.
“He did land the big right,” said Holder. “But honestly it didn’t really hurt me. Don’t get me wrong. He hits extremely hard. I took it and came right back at him. I was confident in my hands and when I landed that shot behind his ear he dropped. I knew I had to try to finish him because he’s such a dangerous guy. I couldn’t let him back to his feet. I just kept hitting him until the ref stopped it.”
With the win last night Holder improves to 9-1 and picked up his eighth straight first round finish. He also advances to the WSOF light heavyweight tournament finals and will face the winner of Rony Markes vs Dave Branch laster this year. But most importantly “The Hitman” created a buzz with the knockout of the former UFC star.
“A win over Thiago is huge for my career,” said Holder. “He’s beaten Feijao, Matt Hamill, Jardine and a lot of really good guys. He ever fought Rashad for the belt and took him to a decision. After the fight I went over to him and thanked him for the opportunity and told him I had grown up watching him fight and had so much respect for him. Look at it this way, once Hamill backed out Silva didn’t have to take a fight. He could’ve collected his show money and went home. But that guy has a heart of a champion and wanted to fight anyone because that’s the kind of competitor he is. He gave me an opportunity to fight him. He could’ve said no but he didn’t, and I’ll always be grateful to him for that. I had heard that they offered the fight to at least one other guy in the back before me so Silva basically told them that he would fight anyone last night. You have to respect a guy like that.”
Twelve hours after the big win Holder still hasn’t gone to sleep. He’s still taking it all in.
“Last night was amazing,” said Holder. “I couldn’t sleep even if I wanted to. I had over two hundred friend requests on Facebook this morning and I’ve got a bunch of new followers on Twitter too. When I get home I’m going to get back in the gym and keep getting better. I’m so blessed. I couldn’t have done it without Andy Uhrich. He was in my ear and had my mind right all night. I have to thank David Ferguson, Houston Lantrip and the guys at Memphis BJJ. There are so many people to thank, who have stood behind me like Merciless Fighter and Smith Chiropractic. I can’t remember everyone right now but I love you all. This win was for them.”