Kevin Holland Talks Upcoming Fight With ‘Gatekeeper’ Derek Brunson
Kevin Holland is set to headline the UFC’s March 20th card against longtime UFC middleweight contender, Derek Brunson.
In 2020, Holland became the first middleweight fighter in UFC history to win five times in a calendar year. His biggest win came at UFC 256 against ‘Jacare’ Souza, who he stopped via an incredible TKO from his back.
After the win over ‘Jacare’, Holland called out Brunson, who didn’t take long to accept the challenge. Since losing to Israel Adesanya at UFC 230, the 37 year old has put together a three fight win streak, with wins over Edmen Shahbazyan, Ian Heinisch, and Elias Theodorou.
Beating The ‘GateKeeper’
Brunson is ranked three places above Holland at seven in the middleweight rankings. Speaking to MMA Junkie however, ‘Trail Blazer’ described his opponent as the division’s ‘gatekeeper’.
“I just hate that Brunson is my first main event,” Holland said. “I mean, the storyline is good. It’s cool. Everything is amazing there. I’m having fun with him online. He’s kind of making me enjoy that it is him. But at the same time, Brunson? He’s kind of the gatekeeper. He’s another year older. It was just his birthday. This, that, etc., etc., etc.
“It’s like, beat Brunson, there are going to be 1,000 excuses why you beat Brunson, too. A main event against somebody with no excuses? That would’ve been amazing. The main event, beating Brunson, and there’s going to be a thousand excuses once I beat, him? Ooh. Cool.”
Fighting Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere
There’s no doubt that Holland loves to stay as active as possible. After his UFC 256 win over ‘Jacare’, he offered to step in for Leon Edwards, who was set to face Khamzat Chimaev at UFC Vegas 17, but had to pull out due to the coronavirus. Although he is set to compete in March, if a good opportunity comes his way before his Brunson fight, the 28 year would happily step in.
“I’m healthy,” Holland shared. “As soon as they came back to the APEX, I figured that would be great. If the boss wants March, I’ll take March. If anything happens in between [that] time and they need somebody to step up into something. I’ll do that and I’ll still do Brunson in March.”
“Knockout Of the Century”
Holland has won four of his last five UFC bouts by the way of KO/TKO. His finishing move against ‘Jacare’ is already a 2020 contender for ‘knockout of the year’, but he is eyeing ‘knockout of the century’ against Brunson.
“If I can time his favourite combo right, it might not be five rounds,” Holland stated. “I’m definitely preparing for five, so we’ll see how it goes. I have plenty of time to prepare, so I should be more than great. I’ve got a sequence. If I slip his jab, roll his overhand, and then hit him with a good hip thrust while he goes for a takedown, I’ll knock him out with my cojones. That right there would be a knockout for the century.”
Brunson is known for his wrestling pedigree, and it is quite possible that he uses his wrestling advantage against Holland, who hopes the fight stays on the feet for as long as possible.
“He says I can’t wrestle, so I can’t wrestle,” Holland said. “We’ll see when that night comes. I just pray that he doesn’t try to hump for a full 25 minutes. Just give me five minutes of striking, Brunson. Just five minutes. That’s all I ask you. If you give me five minutes of striking, I’ll give you 20 minutes of humping.”
Going into 2021, Holland believes he is one or two big wins away from a title shot. If he gets past Brunson in March, a title eliminator could be next for him.
“The history of the 185-pound division over the past couple of years has been, ‘Beat Brunson, get a title shot,’” Holland said. “So yeah, I think [a title eliminator would be next].”
Who do you think wins the upcoming middleweight clash between Kevin Holland and Derek Brunson?