After having his 170-pound record blemished in his third fight in the division this past September at UFC 279, where Khamzat Chimaev made it a quick night in Las Vegas, Holland will look to make a quick rebound and end his year on a high tonight.
Despite defeat last time out, the fact that it came against a new opponent and top-five name in the division hasn’t damaged the stock of Holland, who’s set for his first UFC headliner at welterweight.
And in what’s a massive opportunity, “Trailblazer” will have the chance to jump into the rankings when he shares the cage with Thompson, a two-time title challenger and the current #6 contender in the weight class.
After their respective recent defeats, both “Wonderboy” and Holland outlined their plans to return to their comfort zone in their next outings, which firmly lies on the feet.
But having seen Thompson controlled and outpointed on the ground against both Gilbert Burns and Belal Muhammad in 2021, many have suggested that Holland’s best path to victory will come through grappling, rather than looking to solve the puzzle that Thompson presents on the feet.
Holland, however, isn’t interested.
Holland Targets “A Good Time” In Thompson Headliner
During a media scrum at UFC 281, Holland explained to MMA News and other outlets why he isn’t looking to utilize the wrestling work he put in following losses to Derek Brunson and Marvin Vettori last year into action in Orlando.
While the formerly ranked middleweight recognized that grappling may be the easiest way to defeat Thompson given how his deficiencies on the ground have been exposed in recent bouts, “Big Mouth” wants to have fun.
And for him, fun involves fists and kicks, not holds and guards.
“(Grappling) probably is the easiest way to beat him,” Holland said. “But, you know, it’s just a prideful thing. Ego’s a motherf*cker, Pride’s a motherf*cker, and I got that… I just plan on going out there and having a good time. To me, having a good time is banging. I don’t mind grappling, but to grapple the whole time is just not something that’s in me.
“I won my first fight ever for MMA grappling. I went home and cried like a baby because I thought I fought like a b*tch. So, yeah, it’s not in me, I don’t like it,” Holland added.
Having seen his originally planned opponent in September have his hand raised and enter the top 15, Holland will look to add a number next to his name tonight by adding to the woes of veteran Thompson.
Given the comments form both parties, whatever the result may be, fans look set for entertainment in the UFC Orlando headliner.
Who do you think will have their hand raised at UFC Orlando, Kevin Holland or Stephen Thompson?
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