To the common observer, Kevin Holland’s incessant talking during his fight against Derek Brunson may have come across as par for the course in a fight featuring a man whose nickname is “Big Mouth.” Holland has become widely known for his jaw-jacking tendencies, so it may come as no surprise that he spoke during the entirety of his first five-round fight in the UFC. But what made this fight different is that Holland was speaking while being outwrestled in the biggest fight of his career instead of putting all his attention on improving his position and defending.
This nonchalant, carefree attitude was lightly criticized by commentators during the event, but there was nothing light or lighthearted about UFC President Dana White’s assessment of what he saw in the cage from Holland.
“I think that was a mental breakdown,” White told Yahoo Sports after the event. “The only other thing I saw like it was [in boxing] when Lennox Lewis fought that guy [Oliver McCall] who kept his hands at his side and was crying. I don’t know what he was doing. I think he might not have been able to handle the pressure and just broke mentally. I haven’t seen anything like that.”
During the referenced boxing contest, McCall was not presenting any fight in response to Lewis at all and at one point cried between rounds. It seems a bit harsh to lump Holland into this category being that, if nothing else, he was trying to mount offense on the feet, at one point having Brunson in a bit of trouble early in the second round. And though limited, Holland did land some strikes to Brunson from the bottom in intervals.
It is difficult to know what Holland was thinking during the moments Brunson was dominating him in the grappling department, but he has been consistent about not taking himself too seriously and always having fun during every moment inside the Octagon. As bizarre and undisciplined as Holland’s talking during the loss may have come across to some spectators, it can be argued that his behavior did not stray as far from his norm as Dana White and others are making out.
What do you think? Did Kevin Holland suffer a mental breakdown of some kind? Is his nonstop talking during the UFC Vegas 22 main event deserving of criticism? Or should everybody lighten up?