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Israel Adesanya backstage confrontation led to outburst from UFC Vegas 12’s Kevin Holland

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After Kevin Holland slammed his way to a victory over Charlie Ontiveros at UFC Vegas 12 on Halloween (Sat., Oct. 31, 2020), the rising Middleweight contender turned his attention to division champion, Israel Adesanya, who was sitting front row. And even though “Trail Blazer” barked a few choice words toward the champ, “The Last Stylebender” remained calm.

During a recent interview on What The Heck, Holland explained the root of his beef with Adesanya, which goes back to the night he was set to make his official Octagon debut at UFC 227 in 2018.

“I had seen him in the stairwell and I simply said, ‘He’s not that big,’” Holland said (via MMA Fighting). “And he was like, ‘What the f*ck did he say?’ And it was just the way he responded to it. I was talking to my coach saying, ‘Yo, he’s not that big,’ but I was looking at everybody in the division. They were talking about going back down to 170, but I didn’t think I needed to.

“When I saw him, he had been soaring through the division and we had similar bodies,” he continued. “He’s not that big. He didn’t like it and he kind of charged me up, like I was a freshman and he was a junior. I was the new guy on the team and he can just treat me however.”

Holland then claimed that people had to get between them to prevent things from escalating.

“My coach had to tell him to go the other way and James Vick had to push me down the stairs. In my eyes, it was like he was trying to punk me. So forever in my eyes, he was trying to punk me. Since then I’ve been like, the guy is good but f—k him. I don’t believe in being punked. Every time I meet somebody like that, you have two personalities that are brash and that’s what happens. Nothing against the guy, but in my head, my world, we’re in the same weight class as it is, f—k him.”

Since that run-in, Holland has gone on to go 7-2, winning his last four while Adesanya went on to capture the 185-pound title, defending it once against Paulo Costa. While Holland would love nothing more than to get his chance to face “The Last Stylebender,” as well as fight for the title, he says he is in no rush to get pushed into a championship bout and is willing to keep working to earn it.

It’s a good thing, too, because Adesanya will put his 185-pound title on ice for a bit as he intends to move up to the Light Heavyweight division to face current champion Jan Blachowicz in early 2021.

It’s a move that Holland applauds.