After a 2-0 start at 170 pounds having made the move following a three-fight winless run at middleweight, Holland was looking to stake his claim for a place in the rankings at UFC 279 earlier this month with a strong showing against the returning Daniel Rodriguez.
In the end, “Trailblazer” had to watch “D-Rod” ascend into the top 15 following a decision victory over Li Jingliang. As well as that opponent change, which came courtesy of a Khamzat Chimaev weight miss, Holland instead shared the Octagon with “Borz” in the co-main event.
Having been quickly mauled by the undefeated Chechen-born Swede, Holland appeared to quickly turn his attention to his next outing, calling out Stephen Thompson and Rodriguez. But a few weeks on from the event, the 29-year-old Californian claimed to be “retired before 30.”
In the aftermath of the announcement, reactions were mixed. While some immediately dismissed the legitimacy of Holland’s retirement, others took it seriously and credited the Texas resident for exiting the sport in his physical prime.
Now, Dana White has given his view on the matter.
White: ‘It’s Too Soon For Holland To Retire’
Speaking at the post-fight press conference following Tuesday’s episode of Dana White’s Contender Series, the UFC president was asked whether he’d spoken to Holland about the retirement claim.
Assessing the 29-year-old’s apparent decision to hang up his gloves, White noted that it must have been difficult for Holland to accept the manner of his loss to Chimaev given how hard he’d worked on his wrestling game since 2021 losses to Derek Brunson and Marvin Vettori.
“We talked about that. Obviously, you know I’m really close to this kid, and I like him a lot,” White said. “I think when you are competing in a sport like this and you’ve done the things that Kevin Holland has done, you know — he gets out of the fight with Brunson and realizes he needs to work on his wrestling more, so he dives in, starts working on his wrestling, and I think when what happened to him happens to you, I don’t know, I think you lay in bed at night and go, ‘Holy shit, how did that happen to me.’”
With that in mind, White believes that Holland may have let his emotions take over when it came to the retirement call. While the UFC chief said the decision is ultimately up to “Big Mouth,” he insisted that it’s too soon for him to call time on his career.
“He’s an emotional guy, so it think his emotions got the best of him. Just take some time, get back in the gym, and whatever he wants to do, obviously. I love the kid, whatever he wants to do, he can do, but I think retirement, it’s a little bit too soon.”
What did you make of Kevin Holland’s retirement announcement? Do you think there’s any truth to it?