The fighters both respected each other's power in the early going with Stephens looking for leg kicks and Holloway countering with his long reach. Stephens initiated the clinch on a couple of occasions to keep Holloway honest and possibly keep the Hawaiian from launching too many kicks out of fear of the takedown.
Holloway started to land his right hand a bit more in the second round and finally uncorked a spinning back kick but Stephens did a good job anticipating and ended up grabbing the clinch and looking for the takedown once again.
Time and time again, Holloway was able to use his range to stay away from Stephens' power and when he finally did get too aggressive, the counter shots were fast and accurate.
Holloway mixed things up in the final round as he charged forward and planted Stephens on the mat and started looking for submissions.
Holloway relentlessly pursued a rear naked choke but Stephens was able to slip free and actually get up off the ground to put the fight back on the feet.
Stephens started swinging big punches towards the close of the fight but he still struggled to deal with Holloway's wide variety of counters, including a beautiful spinning back elbow just under a minute to go.
One final flurry from both fighters closed out the contest, but it was clear that Holloway had pulled ahead enough to get the win.
The judges scored the fight 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 all in favor of Holloway.
Holloway will now wait to find out what happens in the main event as he continues to move ahead in the featherweight division while looking for a title fight in 2016.