UFC Fight Night Takeaways: Brunson vs. Holland
Derek Brunson and Kevin Holland squared off over the weekend as the UFC Fight Night main event. At the conclusion of the event, Holland would find himself on the wrong end of the decision. Derek Brunson on the other hand defeated another promising young prospect. He was able to score on many takedown attempts throughout the fight and his time spent on top would secure the win. Holland had his moments in the bout, having done significant damage to Brunson during an exchange and securing a takedown late. After the fight, Brunson called for a fight with Paulo Costa and Holland indicated a move to welterweight.
Derek Brunson Ends Another Win Streak
Derek Brunson has recently made a habit of killing win streaks and derailing the hype trains of promising young prospects. In his last three fights, Brunson has defeated Ian Heinisch, Edmen Shabazyan, and Kevin Holland. Heinisch and Holland were on five-fight streaks and Shabazyan had never lost in eleven career fights. After his loss to Adesanya, a bit of a gatekeeper narrative seemed to surface about Brunson. This streak certainly acts to dispel such narratives emphatically and positions him within striking distance of title contention.
Brunson did a great job of using his well-developed wrestling game to spend most of this fight on top of his opponent. He was also able to provide a credible threat of strikes from the top. This forced Holland to play a conservative guard more focused on defending strikes than attempting subs and sweeps. It became evident in this fight that Derek Brunson has become a more patient fighter. He picked his spots and scored most of his takedowns reactively to Holland’s strikes. Brunson’s efficiency partially explains his ability to maintain his output throughout his first five-round fight. His cardio was also a big factor and was surprisingly impressive.
What’s Next for Brunson?
Brunson is now on a four-fight winning streak and is now the fourth-ranked fighter in the middleweight division. He called out Paulo Costa in his post-fight interview and the fight makes sense on paper. Paulo was scheduled to fight Robert Whittaker but had to withdraw citing a bad flu. Whittaker has since agreed to fight Kelvin Gastelum, so the Costa fight isn’t super likely to be rebooked any time soon. When Paulo recovers from his illness and is ready to return to the octagon, Brunson will be willing and available to fight. Brunson’s strength, wrestling, and newfound patience would make him an interesting challenge for Paulo Costa. Both fighters throw hard and have the capability to end the fight early so this one could be exciting.
Kevin Holland Outwrestled
Kevin Holland lost this fight as a result of his inability to avoid takedowns and inability to secure a sweep or submission. He has good BJJ and he showed it when escaping bad positions and avoiding strikes from his back. That’s not why he lost this fight. Brunson was able to take him down at will and enter very easily. Holland’s footwork and shot selection left him overextended frequently and too upright to stop Brunson from getting to his body and legs to secure takedowns. Holland was unable to stop Brunson from finishing most of his takedown attempts and the difference in strength was very evident.
Kevin Holland Performance Review
Kevin Holland had his winning streak snapped last weekend and even drew the ire of Dana White for his persistent trash talk. It’s not all bad for Holland though, he didn’t take that much damage and had some good moments throughout the contest. He was able to use his guard and escapes to keep himself safe, even if he wasn’t able to be very offensive of his back or stand. Being the lighter man appeared to affect Holland negatively in this one and he suggested a move to welterweight in his post-fight interview.
What’s Next for Holland?
Holland has expressed interest in fighting Belal Muhammad. The fight makes some kind of sense because they are ranked similarly in their respective divisions. On the other hand, Belal Muhammad is seeking a rematch of his disastrous first fight with Leon Edwards and there are other good opponents at 170 for Holland. Kevin holds a TKO victory over Geoff Neal from when he defended his XKO middleweight title against him in 2017. Neal is now the UFC’s number eleven welterweight and is coming off of a loss to Wonderboy Thompson. This would be an interesting fight because Neal would get a chance to avenge his loss and Holland would get a shot at an established fighter in the welterweight division.
Derek Brunson overcame slight underdog status in last weekend’s UFC Fight Night event and defeat Kevin Holland by unanimous decision. Brunson has looked much better overall and seems to have adopted a more efficient style since his move to Sanford MMA. He made great use of reactive takedowns and his full wrestling game to score on his opponent throughout the match. Brunson called out Paulo Costa in his post-fight interview and both the timing and match-up make sense. Kevin Holland had his five-fight win-streak snapped last weekend but didn’t look all that bad overall. He used his black belt guard well to keep himself safe on his back but lost the fight because of the time he’s spent there. Holland said he wants to go down to 170 after the fight and would like to fight Belal Muhammad. A move to welterweight makes sense for Holland and even if he doesn’t fight Belal the division is still teeming with interesting matchups for both fighters.