Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight bangers Kevin Holland and Daniel Rodriguez will duel in a Catchweight battle this weekend (Sat., Sept. 10, 2022) at UFC 279 inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Though this is technically a Catchweight bout because of its short-notice nature, this fight is essentially a continuation of Holland’s Welterweight rise. Since dropping down to 170 pounds, Holland has picked up a pair of stoppage wins over quality opposition, positioning himself to break into the rankings again sooner than later. Rodriguez has built up a solid bit of momentum himself. “D-Rod” has won six of his seven UFC bouts, including his last three. It’s been little more than one year since we last saw Rodriguez in the cage, but the Californian scrapper has more than earned a high-profile opportunity like this upcoming match against Holland.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Record: 23-7 (1)
Key Wins: Tim Means (UFC Austin), Alex Oliveira (UFC 272), Ronaldo Souza (UFC 256), Darren Stewart (UFC Vegas 11), Joaquin Buckley (UFC Vegas 6)
Key Losses: Derek Brunson (UFC Vegas 22), Marvin Vettori (UFC Vegas 23), Brendan Allen (UFC on ESPN 6), Thiago Santos (UFC 227)
Keys to Victory: Holland is a peak example of just how valuable of an asset length can be when combined with real power. Welterweights shouldn’t have 81 inch reaches, and they typically don’t crack like Holland either, which makes him a really tricky opponent for a majority of the division.
Holland is facing a big, tough opponent, but that’s not terribly dissimilar from some of his Middleweight opponents. Holland will have a speed and reach advantage, and again, he surely has the power to sting Rodriguez.
If Holland’s hands could make Vettori uncomfortable, they can bother “D-Rod,” too.
Ideally, Holland will establish his straight punches early and make it difficult for Rodriguez to bully him. Rodriguez throws nice combinations, but he’s not terribly fast on his feet, so Holland should have an edge in outmaneuvering his opponent at range. If Rodriguez does manage to secure the pocket, Holland could also stuff his opponent’s offense by quickly wrapping up the clinch, an area where “Big Mouth” is still pretty dangerous, too.
Key Wins: Kevin Lee (UFC Vegas 35), Tim Means (UFC Fight Night 167), Mike Perry (UFC Vegas 23), Dwight Grant (UFC Vegas 7)
Key Losses: Nicolas Dalby (UFC 255)
Keys to Victory: I greatly appreciate fighters like Daniel Rodriguez. He’s not the most athletic man on the roster or even the heaviest hitter in the division, but Rodriguez is as hard-nosed as they come, and he certainly cracks hard enough to send most opponents to the floor.
He’s no pure brawler, either. Indeed, Rodriguez’s boxing has some real craft.
Rodriguez wants to fight in the pocket, which means he has to pressure the taller, longer man. He’s going to have to do something about Holland’s straight shots, whether that means reaching out and smothering hands or focusing more on his head movement is up to “D-Rod.” Either way, Rodriguez can’t just expect to walk through Holland’s range shots.
On the whole, prolonged exchanges are likely Rodriguez’s best chance at success. He has to be the one initiating a combination, block/roll/absorb whatever Holland fires back, and then keep attacking. Slipping a Holland jab/straight and countering back with something heavy is likely Rodriguez’s path to victory, but he’ll have to first inch forward to be in range to land.
One man will likely earn a spot in the bottom half of the Welterweight Top 15.
Holland has name value and a bit of momentum at 170 pounds. A third win on a platform like UFC 279 could be the last step needed to earning a really established, highly ranked Welterweight. Maybe a victorious Holland could be the striking match that Stephen Thompson is searching for? I’d watch that.
Rodriguez doesn’t quite have the name of Holland or the previous main event experience, but this is nevertheless a shot to earn a number next to his name. Seven quality wins in eight trips to the Octagon is nothing to scoff at, and at 35 years of age, UFC should be willing to give him reasonable jumps up in competition if he keeps winning. The time is now for “D-Rod” to make his run, and stopping Holland’s 170-pound rise would be a fine feather in his cap.
At UFC 279, Kevin Holland and Daniel Rodriguez will go to war on the main card. Which man will remain standing when the dust settles?
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 279 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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