Surging middleweight contender, Kevin Holland featured a whopping five times last year alone — becoming the sole middleweight in promotional history to lodge five victories in a calendar year, and if he gets past Derek Brunson this weekend at UFC Vegas 22 — he plans to continue that active schedule with another short-notice turnaround.
Holland, sitting at #10 in the official 185-pound pile, earned his rank within the division’s top-ten via a stunning, creative knockout win over former Strikeforce middleweight champion, Jacare Souza at UFC 256 on short-notice in December, finishing the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ace from his back with a revolutionary flurry of strikes.
Setting himself apart with the highlight-reel, Knockout of the Year contender, Holland added the Brazilian grappler to prior Octagon victories over Charlie Ontiveros, Darren Stewart, Joaquin Buckley, and Anthony Hernandez.
Engaging in numerous back-and-forths with the above mentioned, Brunson on social media both prior to and after the booking of their headliner this weekend at the UFC Apex facility, the Californian has envisioned a “devastating” triumph over the division mainstay.
“A devastating win over Derek Brunson, it gives me a big check and a whole lot of clout,” Holland said during a recent interview with MMA Fighting. “Whatever’s next is next and I’ll take it. I don’t want to get in trouble for saying something stupid but Jake Paul’s fighting Ben Askren. Jake Paul should fight somebody who can actually throw some hands if he’s going to fight somebody from the MMA scene. I can throw some hands.“
“I’m not saying that’s what I want to do but what I’m trying to say — I want to have fun,” Holland explained. “I want to go out there and have fun. I’m going to go out there and have fun. Beating Derek Brunson just means I get to continue to have fun. You threaten me with a good time and I’m going to have a good time fighting.“
With one-time title challenger, Paulo Costa forced from an April 17th. headliner with former champion, Robert Whittaker, the Auckland native now tackles Kelvin Gastelum on short notice as well, however, Holland is still making himself available should the UFC require short-notice replacements for what proves to be a busy April for the division’s top-five contenders.
“He’s (Derek Brunson) a person who talks a little bit of sh*t,” Holland said. “I’m a person that talks a whole lot of sh*t so when I smack him and I whack him and he can’t get back up, I’m a happy man. Beating him, what does it say about my future? It just says I’m ready for the next person. Who’s next after that? It don’t matter who’s next after that. I see they got a lot of fights booked at 185 and vaginal muscles get pulled all the time and it seems like a lot of these guys got vaginal muscles, so I’ll be there.“
Whilst Holland has enjoyed a particularly rich vein of form recently, top-ten staple, Brunson has also knocked back his fair share of opposition recently. Taking a trio of victories, the 37-year-old North Carolina native has managed to lodge decision wins over both Elias Theodorou and Ian Heinisch, as well as a short-notice UFC Vegas 5 knockout win over the then-undefeated, 11-0 Edmen Shahbazyan in August last.