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Monday Morning Hangover: What’s next for Kevin Holland after losing second straight at UFC Vegas 23?

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UFC Fight Night: Vettori v Holland Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Another weekend of fisticuffs has come and gone with UFC Vegas 23 going down last Saturday (April 10, 2021) inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. Plenty of fighters were left licking their wounds, including Nina Nunes, who was submitted by Mackenzie Dern in the first round (see it here).

And Sam Alvey, who suffered the fifth loss in his last six fights after getting submitted by Julian Marquez via rear-naked choke (see it again here). But, which fighter is suffering from the worst post-fight hangover, now a few days removed from the show?

Kevin Holland.

After Darren Till got hurt and bowed out of his fight against Marvin Vettori, Holland quickly volunteered to step in and fill the void, something he’s accustomed to doing. Plus, he had just suffered a tough loss to Derek Brunson a few weeks prior, so getting back on the horse in an attempt to erase that memory as quick as possible wasn’t a bad move by “Trail Blazer.”

Unfortunately for the mouthy middleweight, the risk didn’t pay off.

While Holland did have some success in the striking department, especially in the first round, his lack of wrestling would end up being his downfall for the second straight time. Just like Brunson did, Vettori took down Holland repeatedly to control the pace of the fight. When it was all said and done, “The Italian Dream” walked away with a unanimous decision victory, while Holland went home with his second consecutive loss.

That said, credit has to be given to “Trail Blazer” for stepping up in a big way to keep at least half of the main event intact. Bouncing back won’t be an issue for Holland, who has shown he can string together big wins in a hurry, much like he did from May to December in 2020 by winning five straight.

But before he does that, he really needs to address the wrestling aspect of his game since he’s facing big and powerful beasts at 185 pounds. It’s something that isn’t lost on Holland, though he isn’t about to completely change his style.

“Can’t say too much changes,” Holland said after the fight. “We’ll see what it is. I honestly don’t know. Go spend some time with D.C. for sure, work on some of those wrestling things. Go work on wrestling of course. Learn how to stop some of these takedowns. Other than that, same old same.

“I’m not going to change the fighter I am and try and become a wrestler just because all these guys want to wrestle,” he continued. “It’s like, I like to strike, I like to bang. I just [need] to do a better job of keeping the fight up on its feet and deliver some more knockouts to the people and that way they’ll be back on the bandwagon sooner or later.”

When he’s ready to return, perhaps a showdown against the loser of the upcoming fight between Brad Tavares and Omari Akhmedov — which is set to go down at UFC 264 on July 10 — is a good option. It gives Holland some time to sharpen his wrestling with Daniel Cormier and a fight (and win) against either of those Top 15 combatants would be a good way to bounce back.

For complete UFC Vegas 23 results and coverage click here.