Kevin Holland is happy to be getting bigger fights, five-round fights, and main event fights.
While he recognizes Brunson’s history of fighting rising stars like UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya and former champion Robert Whittaker before they won championship gold, Holland indicated he sees the matchup as lackluster and low-reward.
“I just hate that Brunson is my first main event,” Holland told MMA Junkie on Thursday. “I mean, the storyline is good. It’s cool. Everything is amazing there. I’m having fun with him online. He’s kind of making me enjoy that it is him. But at the same time, Brunson? He’s kind of the gatekeeper. He’s another year older. It was just his birthday. This, that, etc., etc., etc.
“It’s like, beat Brunson, there are going to be 1,000 excuses why you beat Brunson, too. A main event against somebody with no excuses? That would’ve been amazing. The main event, beating Brunson, and there’s going to be a thousand excuses once I beat, him? Ooh. Cool.”
Holland, who fought five times over the final seven months of 2020, has stayed active when healthy. Waiting three months in between fights is territory he hasn’t charted for some time. If a short-notice opportunity arises in the coming weeks, Holland will raise his hand.
“I’m healthy,” Holland said. “As soon as they came back to the Apex, I figured that would be great. If the boss wants March, I’ll take March. If anything happens in between (that) time and they need somebody to step up into something. I’ll do that and I’ll still do Brunson in March.”
In preparation, Holland has already planned out one sequence he thinks could happen in the fight – an unorthodox one. Holland has three knockout wins on his UFC resume and is looking to make it four with a “knockout of the century.”
“If I can time his favorite combo right, it might not be five rounds,” Holland said. “I’m definitely preparing for five, so we’ll see how it goes. I have plenty of time to prepare, so I should be more than great. I’ve got a sequence. If I slip his jab, roll his overhand, and then hit him with a good hip thrust while he goes for a takedown, I’ll knock him out with my cojones. That right there would be a knockout for the century.”
Brunson, 37, has been with the UFC since 2012. Since his debut, he’s competed against a who’s who of the middleweight division and has headlined multiple cards. With a strong wrestling attack, Brunson has been able, at times, to control his opponents when the fight hits the mat.
Holland hopes Brunson keeps the grappling to a minimum on March 20.
“He says I can’t wrestle, so I can’t wrestle,” Holland said. “We’ll see when that night comes. I just pray that he doesn’t try to hump for a full 25 minutes. Just give me five minutes of striking, Brunson. Just five minutes. That’s all I ask you. If you give me five minutes of striking, I’ll give you 20 minutes of humping.”
If all goes according to his plan and he wins, Holland thinks a title eliminator fight could be on the horizon. At least that is what he’s taken away from history.
“The history of the 185-pound division over the past couple of years has been, ‘Beat Brunson, get a title shot,’” Holland said. “So yeah, I think (a title eliminator would be next).