Replacing an injury-stricken Darren Till at UFC on ABC 2 this weekend, middleweight striker, Kevin Holland intends to bring a more focused approach to his short notice tie with Marvin Vettori, following his criticized unanimous decision defeat to Derek Brunson at UFC Vegas 22 last month.
Making a timely turnaround, the Riverside native suffered a unanimous judging loss to division mainstay, Brunson, suffering the first defeat since amassing an eye-catching five-fight winning spree last year.
In a record-setting annum for Holland, the Travis Lutter Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu player scored five consecutive wins over Anthony Hernandez, Joaquin Buckley, Darren Stewart, Charlie Ontiveros, and a particularly innovative knockout win over former Strikeforce middleweight best, Jacare Souza in another short notice appearance at UFC 256 in December.
Clashing with veteran contender, Brunson in somewhat of a headlining grudge match, Holland had no answers for the wrestling prowess of the North Carolina native, who managed to score a unanimous decision win — via six separate successful takedown attempts.
Whilst scoring some notable shots on the feet, Holland was criticized as he continuously spoke with both Brunson, as well as former undisputed UFC lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov who was sitting Octagon-side along with promotional president, Dana White — jokingly asking the Dagestani for wrestling advice throughout.
Reflecting on the result and the performance, Holland explained that he lost sleep in the days after the event due to the lingering fear that he had let those around him down with his loss to Brunson.
“It (the fear of letting people down) bothers me a tonne,” Holland said. “It’s like — I didn’t sleep after the fight, I didn’t sleep till — I got on the plane, slept a couple of hours on the plane, then I slept a couple of hours last night when I was at home. Ultimately, I didn’t sleep after the fight — and it’s not because I’m mad at myself, it’s ultimately that I’m mad that I let people down.“
“I hate to see the boss walk out, pissed off that I didn’t perform or that he felt the main event didn’t go down as he wanted it to go down,” Holland explained. “That’s on my hands so I hate that. DC (Daniel Cormier), we’ve had conversations before heading into this fight and, you know, there were certain things that I’m supposed to be shooting for and I guess I just never wrapped my mind around shooting for those things.“
“I apologize for not wanting it as much as they want me to want,” Holland said. “Now, I just feel like I need to get those things to prove to them that I can do it. So it’s not really for me, it’s for everybody around me — for the people that care for me and the people that want to see me do well. I don’t want to do bad because — I don’t want their hopes and dreams of me to be washed down because I just don’t give a f*ck, you know what I mean?“
During a recent interview with Ariel Helwani from ESPN MMA, Holland explained that he won’t be as talkative against Kings MMA standout, Vettori, and how he’ll listen to the instructions provided by his corner throughout rounds on April 10th.
“I don’t think there’s no way I talk more than I did in the last one (against Brunson),” Holland said. “I think it’s safe to say that in-between rounds — if it goes that far — I will be focused and zeroed in on what Travis (Lutter), Shug (Dorsey), and ‘Cowboy’ (Justin Adams) have to tell me.“
Matching with Vettori on short notice, who is coming off his fourth consecutive victory- the Trento native managed an impressive unanimous decision win over Jack Hermansson last December.
If the Rafael Cordeiro trainee intends on bringing a certain intensity to fight week, Holland has claimed that he’ll match that, however, come fight night, the Californian believes he’ll “control the flow” of proceedings.
“If he (Marvin Vettori) wants to get in my face, we’ll be in each other’s faces,” Holland explained. “If he puts his hands on me, I’ll put my hands on him. Whatever he wants to do. I’m here to go with the flow until the fight happens, and then when the fight happens. I’m looking to control the flow. I’m the great river. We’ll run my way.“