While 2020 is best left forgotten for most, it was a great year for Kevin Holland. The man known as ‘Trailblazer’ fought five times in the UFC, winning all five within 210 days - a UFC record. Three of those wins were highlight-reel knockouts against Anthony Hernandez, Joaquin Buckley and Ronaldo Souza.
Holland made a name for himself in the middleweight division and looked set to continue ascending the ranks in 2021 - until he faced Derek Brunson at UFC Fight Night last month.
In what was overall a very strange fight, Brunson smothered Holland’s offence by scoring several takedowns, keeping Holland on his back for most of the fight. Brunson claimed a unanimous decision victory, ending Holland’s five-fight win-streak.
Originally dubbed ‘Big Mouth’ by Dana White in 2018, Holland became known for continuously talking while fighting - making him a fan favorite. However, in the Brunson fight the talking backfired, as Holland appeared to psyche himself out of the contest.
So which version of Kevin Holland will we see on UFC Vegas 23, ‘Trailblazer’ or ‘Big Mouth’? Here are three reasons Kevin Holland’s alter ego will matter against Marvin Vettori.
3. Bigmouth Strikes Again!
Most of Kevin Holland’s UFC fights have featured his usual chatty playfulness in some form or another. The Derek Brunson anomaly was the only time it didn’t work.
When Dana White talked about Kevin Holland after his Contender Series victory in 2018, he was annoyed at the fact Holland wouldn’t stop talking during the fight - so annoyed, that he threw ‘Big Mouth’ in against Thiago Santos at UFC 227, a man White himself described as "a savage."
Holland took the fight on short notice, lost on points but he earned White’s respect. From that point on, Holland’s career has skyrocketed. Just because it didn’t work against Brunson doesn’t mean that ‘Big Mouth’ should stop talking.
2. A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Action
Elvis died on, or at least close to, the toilet, and if Kevin Holland isn’t careful that’s where his career may be heading. Talking during fights is great but it’s more of a sideshow than the main attraction, he needs to remember what his greatest asset is - his skillset.
“A little more bite and a little less bark”, advice from Elvis to Kevin Holland.
While it’s true Brunson didn’t really do much to win the fight, it’s also true that Holland did less. Michael Bisping, admittedly a Kevin Holland fan, was apoplectic during commentary that Holland seemed more keen on being funny than trying to win. ‘Trailblazer’ needs to believe in his own technical ability more.
If Kevin Holland does a repeat of the Brunson fight then we may not see him on a UFC main card again.
1. Going Down In A Blaze Of Glory
The best version of Kevin Holland, is a deadly combo of both ‘Trailblazer’ and ‘Big Mouth’. When he mixes it up, using aggression and technical ability with playful comedy, then it is incredibly difficult to predict what he will do next - that’s what makes this man so entertaining to watch.
Kevin Holland uses conversation to relax inside the octagon, he wants to feel as if this is a fight outside his own house - this frees up his creativity whilst pulling the opposition out of their comfort zone. Genius - when it works.
When it doesn’t work he should stop talking and give it everything he’s got. At least then he’ll go down in a 'Trailblaze' of glory.