Kevin Holland had a wild 2020, fighting five times and earning five wins — four of them via (technical) knockout. But, while his pace has been similar in 2021, the output has not generated the same results. Four months into the year, Holland is winless (0-2) and has only won one round out of the 10 he’s fought.
That comes down to wrestling. Derek Brunson laid out the gameplan to defeat Holland: catch him when he jumps into the clinch throwing punches, then pin him to the ground and out-wrestle him. Marvin Vettori echoed that strategy at UFC Vegas 23. A somewhat obvious plan in retrospect given Holland is more of a puffed-up Welterweight than an honest to God Middleweight.
Indeed, after his last defeat (two weeks ago!), Holland said he was considering a fight at 170 pounds. Now, he’s saying he also needs to fix that wrestling hole.
“Like [Daniel Cormier] said, gave up a lot of takedowns in the last two fights,” he said in a post-fight interview with Megan Olivi. “It sucks not to be in the winner’s circle. But at the end of the day I got a plane ride home and going to spend a lotta dollars at the lady’s club, so ... it’s not that bad.
“When I seen Marvin didn’t have an opponent, the smart thing to do would’ve been staying in that shower and not answering the phone call,” he added. “But I never said I was smart. Courageous and a company man is something that I am. So if people want to ridicule that, they can ridicule that. But at the end of the day, when they needed somebody to step in, I stepped in.
“I fought seven times since the pandemic. I’m gonna go spend a couple days with the kid, and then we’ll get back to it. It’s nothing to a sniper. Sometimes we miss the shot, sometimes we land the shot. I’m not the only one who lost tonight, but I’m the only one that did five rounds and didn’t get finished in either one. Against elite levels guys each time, you know?”
As for how he sees changes to his training?
“Can’t say too much changes,” he said. “We’ll see, I honestly don’t know. Go spend some time with DC [Daniel Cormier], for sure, work on some of that wrestling. Go work on wrestling, learn to stop some of these takedowns. Other than that, same old same.
“I’m not gonna change the fighter I am and try and become a wrestler just cuz these guys wanna wrestle,” he concluded. “I like to strike, I like to bang. I just do a better job at keeping the fight on the feet and deliver some more knockouts to the people and that way they’ll be back on the bandwagon, sooner or later.”
For complete UFC Vegas 23 results and coverage click here.
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