One year ago, Kevin Holland found himself under scrutiny for how he handled the first main event loss of his UFC career.
Going into UFC on ESPN: Brunson vs. Holland, Holland had accumulated five straight wins and was in strong contention for being considered the 2020 Fighter of the Year. Then, in his first outing of 2021 and his first UFC headliner, “Blonde Brunson” put a halt to his momentum.
But perhaps the biggest story coming out of the event wasn’t about Holland losing or Brunson winning in dominant fashion. Instead, it was about Holland’s laissez-faire and garrulous attitude to what was transpiring during the fight.
After the loss to Brunson, Holland would go on to lose to Marvin Vettori in similar fashion. Like Brunson, Vettori exploited Holland’s wrestling deficiency to grapple his way to a unanimous decision.
However, since that second loss, Holland was able to bounce back with a Performance of the Night-winning victory over Alex Oliveira. After putting in the work on his wrestling, Holland believes he’s free to continue trailblazing the same path he was in 2020.
In the following story from the MMA News Archives, we revisit where Holland was last year ago. Indeed, this is an opportunity to reflect on where Holland was at this time one year ago before seeing firsthand where he currently is when he takes on Tim Means at UFC Austin tonight.
The following article is presented to you in its original, unaltered form, courtesy of The MMA News Archives.
[ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED MARCH 23, 2021, 2:50 PM]
Headline: Kevin Holland Responds To Dana White‘s “Mental Breakdown” Theory
Author: Clyde Aidoo
Kevin Holland is shrugging off Dana White’s recent “mental breakdown” comments and replacing them with a big chip on his shoulder.
Kevin Holland is all about having fun inside the Octagon, but he was accused of having a bit too much fun while losing in his first UFC main event last Saturday against Derek Brunson. Holland yapped throughout the entire bout, even while the fight was getting further and further out of reach with Brunson pinning him down on the mat and slowly seizing a unanimous decision. But there’s one person who left cageside early who walked away thinking that Holland had the complete opposite of a good time in the fight.
UFC President Dana White shared his belief that Holland had a literal mental breakdown during the loss to Brunson, likening Holland’s performance to that of Oliver McCall in a 1997 fight against Lennox Lewis. Speaking to ESPN Monday evening, Holland took the time to respond to White’s perception of events.
“It’s no big deal. It’s not the first time my boss has had some words about me to say, and it’s probably not gonna be the last time,” Holland said. “It’s OK. If he felt like I had a mental breakdown, it’s my job to get back to a main event status, and go out there and secure the bag, and let him know that it’s not a mental breakdown. And I’ll probably go out there with a more killer mindset, but I’ll probably still talk my way in there, singing that sweet lullaby before I put the guy to sleep.”
Fight Stats Contradict Mental Breakdown Theory
After having some time to chew on everything, Holland believes that all the hoopla about his talk rate is being blown out of proportion. After all, excessive in-fight talking is nothing new for him, plus he feels that the evidence shows he was not as debilitated as what is being made to be the case by White and other critics.
“That is what I do. Make no mistake about it, that’s what I’ve always done,” Holland said of his talking. “I talk a little bit, and then I knock somebody unconscious, and then I probably talk a little bit after that. It’s just what I do. Talk more than what I needed to do? Yeah. Talk a lot the Contender fight the first time? Yeah. People can say that’s how I deal with nerves, that’s perfectly fine. I’m still out there scrappin’.
“If you look at the numbers, everybody’s telling me I landed just as much if not more significant strikes from on bottom than Brunson did that whole time on top. So I mean, if it was a mental breakdown, I’m still smackin’ and crackin’ away while talking.”
Brunson actually landed more significant strikes than Holland, but to Holland’s point, the numbers were more narrow than they would be under a typical “mental breakdown” scenario. In total, Brunson only outlanded Holland by less than 10 significant strikes for the entire fight. So while it’s true that “Big Mouth” could have done more from a grappling defense standpoint, he was certainly not catatonic during the contest.
As for the future, Holland stated that, for once, he is not in a rush to hop back into the Octagon until he makes the necessary adjustments. Time will tell if less talking during fights will be among them.