Entering 2021, there might not have been a hotter fighter in the UFC than Kevin Holland (21-7). After getting off to an okay start to his career inside the octagon, Holland exploded in 2020.
Holland was on the shortlist for fighter of the year in 2020 after going 5-0 inside the octagon. The UFC gave Holland his first main event last month when he took on Derek Brunson at UFC Vegas 22.
With how popular Kevin Holland had become, it wasn’t out of the realm of possibilities that he would have earned a title shot had he impressively defeated Holland. However, that didn’t happen.
Instead, Holland was relatively exposed by Derek Brunson. Brunson used his wrestling to take Holland down pretty much at will. While Holland had successful moments on the feet, Brunson walked to a decision win.
After the fight was over, Holland talked about moving to the UFC‘s welterweight division. However, when Darren Till fell out of the UFC Vegas 23 main event, Kevin Holland volunteered to face Marvin Vettori (16-4-1).
A win over Vettori would have put Holland back in the mix at 185 pounds. However, it was a very tall order in front of him as Vettori has been surging as of late. Kevin Holland went into Saturday with a different focus and he took this fight way more serious.
That said, it still didn’t matter. Holland had no answer for the wrestling of Marvin Vettori. Vettori ended up setting a UFC middleweight record for takedowns on his way to winning a lopsided 50-44 decision.
What’s next after UFC Vegas 23?
All of the momentum that Kevin Holland had in 2020 hit a brick wall to start 2021. The reality is that Kevin Holland has been completely exposed in his last two UFC matchups. With that said, what’s next?
The first thing is that Holland needs to take some time off. Holland has fought seven times in the last eleven months. He needs to slow things down and really focus on improving his wrestling before taking his next fight.
On top of that, I believe he should pursue the UFC’s welterweight division. Unless Holland plans on bulking up, I feel like welterweight could be the spot for him. He consistently weighs in under the limit at middleweight.
Holland could be a force at 170 and there are plenty of great matchups there. I think he needs to take some time to improve his wrestling and then take a fun matchup for his UFC welterweight debut. I don’t think this is the end for Kevin Holland, I just see it as a speed bump.