Tomorrow night on the main card of UFC 287, we are going to see a battle between welterweight contenders who are looking to break into the rankings. “The Trailblazer” Kevin Holland (23-9, 1 NC) is back as he takes on Santiago Ponzinibbio (29-6).
A few years ago, Ponzinibbio was looked at as one of the scariest contenders in the welterweight division. He had a seven-fight winning streak and looked like a guy who could challenge for the title. However, a number of injuries hit him and then he was out for over two years.
Upon returning to the octagon, he just hasn’t looked like the same guy. He still has solid skills, but he’s gone just 2-3 in five fights. Granted, two of those losses were split decisions. In his last fight, he was down to Alex Morono before coming back with a third round knockout.
Kevin Holland was on the short-list for fighter of the year in 2020. Holland won five fights in a row at 185 pounds which earned him a main event slot against Derek Brunson. Unfortunately, Holland’s lack of wrestling skill was exposed that night and he lost a decision.
After another loss to Marvin Vettori, Holland moved down to 170 pounds. He started strong with two straight finish wins before taking a last second fight against Khamzat Chimaev where he was steamrolled. In December, he had a headliner against Stephen Thompson and was stopped after the fourth round because he couldn’t continue due to a broken hand.
UFC 287 Prediction
One thing that concerns me about Holland is the quick turnaround after breaking multiple bones in his right hand in December. Of course, doctors cleared him to compete, however, it just seems like a very quick turnaround for breaking multiple bones in your power hand.
That’s one thing that’s giving me pause leading into UFC 287. However, for the sake of this, let’s say both men are good to go. On the feet, I love Kevin Holland in this matchup. Ponzinibbio has great leg kicks which could do some damage, but I’m not a fan of the way he throws combinations.
Holland is able to stay long while maintaining power with straight shots. Ponzinibbio loops his punches and I can see Holland beating him to the spot as long as the fight last. I think we see a very entertaining scrap with Holland getting a stoppage in the second round.
Prediction: Kevin Holland by TKO – Round 2