Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight sluggers Marvin Vettori and Kevin Holland will clash TONIGHT (Sat., April 10, 2021) at UFC Vegas 23 inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Vettori debuted inside the Octagon at 22 years of age back in Aug. 2016, showing his talent with a quick stoppage win. The prospect took a couple competitive losses in the next two years, but continued to improve, leading to his current breakthrough win streak. The Italian likely has yet to hit his prime, but he’s already closing in on a title shot. Meanwhile, Holland was 2020’s “Fighter of the Year” runner up, the only man to pick up five victories last year. Unfortunately, his main event opportunity against Derek Brunson proved to be a stinker, but Holland can put that ugly loss behind him with an impressive performance here just three weeks later.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Jack Hermansson (UFC Vegas 16), Karl Roberson (UFC on ESPN 10), Cezar Ferreira (UFC Fight Night 155), Andrew Sanchez (UFC Fight Night 161)
Key Losses: Israel Adesanya (UFC on FOX 29), Antonio Carlos Junior (UFC 207)
Keys to Victory: Vettori fights like a well-trained bull. He’s always looking to unleash his powerful left hand, but the Italian attacks with a process, frequently working to out-maneuver his opponent’s lead foot to line up that cross. He’s also a rather effective wrestler with a nasty strangle game.
Brunson just wrote a fairly comprehensive guide on derailing “Trail Blazer,” so why not follow it? Unlike Brunson, Vettori should be able to compete rather well on his feet with Holland, but there’s no need to extend those exchanges. Instead, Vettori should be pressuring his foe, moving him toward the fence, and setting up his takedown attempts.
Vettori is a strong Middleweight. If he’s able to gain top position, he has to be wary of Holland’s wild attacks from the bottom, but it should not prove a major issue to control his smaller foe. In fact, Holland’s offense from his back can actually open up Vettori’s own submission game. If he can convert Holland’s funky attack from his back into a guard pass, Vettori puts himself in great position to catch a rear-naked choke or guillotine as Holland is forced to scramble from a poor spot.
Making Holland pay for his offense is the name of the game.
Key Wins: Ronaldo Souza (UFC 256), Darren Stewart (UFC Vegas 11), Joaquin Buckley (UFC Vegas 6), Gerald Meerschaert (UFC on ESPN 2), Anthony Hernandez (UFC on ESPN 8)
Key Losses: Derek Brunson (UFC Vegas 22), Brendan Allen (UFC on ESPN 6), Thiago Santos (UFC 227)
Keys to Victory: Holland is a genuine wild man. There is real skill behind both his kickboxing and grappling, but Holland fights with a looseness that can be credited for both his successes and failures alike.
Hopefully, Holland learned something from the Brunson loss. There were technical flaws to be sure, but many of his errors were mental, and therefore require more of a conscious decision to adapt than months of drilling. In short, Holland can be far more dangerous if he fights smart.
First and foremost, Holland has to do a better job of maintaining distance. The man has an absurd reach and genuine power in his right hand. There’s no need to crowd himself, particularly against a talented wrestler like Vettori.
In addition, Holland has to work harder to stand. Opposite a strong wrestler in Brunson, Holland tried to throw strikes and submissions from his back, but when his foe was undeterred, Holland seemed to run out of ideas and accept bottom position. If he cannot catch Vettori with something major early, it’s time to work relentlessly on standing up.
Holland can do major damage, provided he gives himself plenty of opportunities to land.
It’s an odd bout due to the short-notice nature of the matchmaking, but there are still real consequences for each man.
Vettori was supposed to face off with Darren Till, a highly ranked Middleweight who could have propelled him into a title shot. Instead, Vettori is fighting largely to stay busy. A win very possible sets up the Till fight once more or a similarly high-profile match up. If, however, Vettori is upset and his win streak comes to an end, “The Italian Dream” is once again several wins away from the title.
There’s a lot to lose.
As for Holland, he’s expressed an interest recently in dropping to Welterweight, so perhaps this fight doesn’t matter either way. In my opinion, however, the 6’3” striker with the 71-inch reach is likely suited for 185 pounds. If he does stick around at Middleweight, a victory here helps move him forward from the ugly Brunson loss, and it could even raise him to the Top 10.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 23 fight card this weekend right here, starting with the ESPN / ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 12 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ABC / ESPN+ at 3 p.m. ET.
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At UFC Vegas 23, Marvin Vettori and Kevin Holland will meet in the main event. Which man will earn the victory?