After an unfortunate matchup that left fans disappointed with a no contest main event at UFC Vegas 21, we set the stage once again for some middleweight madness at UFC Vegas 22 this weekend when we see Derek Brunson vs Kevin Holland. Holland is looking to make it six in a row against a formidable opponent in Brunson. Brunson is on a three-fight win streak of his own and is finally starting to look sharp again since his loss against division champion Israel Adesanya.
Derek Brunson vs Kevin Holland: The Fighters
Brunson returns this weekend at UFC Vegas 22 after his TKO victory over Edmen Shahbazyan last August. It was his first finish since he was defeated by Adesanya and now he is looking to stick to his winning ways by taking out a rising prospect in Holland. With a career as decorated as Brunson’s, you may think that the veteran has an easy task ahead of him. But despite his many, many victories against some of the greatest athletes the middleweight division has seen, Holland is just as much of a problem as previous challengers Brunson has faced.
There was a time where Brunson was known purely for his knockout power but then he slowly became the guy with relentless pressure and exhausting wrestling. Now he is starting to piece his wrestling and punching power together to become the most well-rounded guy in the division. UFC Vegas 22 has the perfect matchup for Brunson to show his growth. Losses against fighters like Jacare Souza, Anderson Silva, and Robert Whittaker are nothing to be ashamed of, and when you have beaten legends of the sport, losing against guys who are just as formidable do not take anything away from Brunson’s great career.
Holland is finally returning this weekend at UFC Vegas 22. He is coming off a KO victory against Souza. The one affectionately known as “Big Mouth” has faced lots of bumps on his road to the top but now looks like a complete, well-rounded athlete. Outside of his captivating fighting style, Holland has a super fun personality which is always on display. One example of this was in his last time out against Souza where he said, “I think I had a dream about this… You know what I mean?” Holland has done this in bouts multiple times against some very dangerous guys and would still go on to win and even finish his opponents.
Holland is one of the more unique fighters we have seen in the UFC. A lot of fans have compared him to Adesanya. A win against Brunson this weekend at UFC Vegas 22 will undoubtedly throw Kevin in with the top-5 of the division. Holland can pose lots of problems against Brunson but one thing that should be highlighted is his power from his back. His best example of this was against Souza but he has previously shown his ability to strike off of his back, even when eating big elbow strikes.
Derek Brunson vs Kevin Holland: The Breakdown
UFC Vegas 22 has a stylistic match for the ages as its main event. Brunson’s wrestling pressure mixed with his knockout power is possibly the best recipe to use against Holland. The last time we saw this style against Holland was when he stepped in on short notice against Thiago Santos, however, that bout still went the distance showing just how durable Holland can be. Brunson will be looking to hold his power back until the later rounds after he attempts to keep Holland grounded.
Hollands’ biggest advantage is his power. Brunson’s guard is usually held just below his chin so the unorthodox style of Holland can definitely catch Brunson. There is a chance that he has made adjustments since his loss against the current champion, but we haven’t seen that same unique style since his matchup against Adesanya so no one really knows other than Brunson and his team. The way Holland extends his straight in his 1-2s is absolutely beautiful. Holland keeps his head behind his feet but leans forward just enough that the punch can land.
Holland’s best chance in finishing the fight is to use his excruciating body strikes to tire out Brunson. Denying the takedowns effectively will also be a key factor in gassing Brunson out. Brunson can jump straight to the feet and push Holland against the cage to work for a takedown but the chance of him getting Holland off balance in the center is highly unlikely. If Brunson wants to hit Holland clean it would be best executed after separating in the clinch against the cage. It would have to be almost identical to Jan Blachowicz vs Luke Rockhold. Holland could get overly confident if he finds success early, which can pose an advantage for Brunson.
Who do you see winning the Derek Brunson vs Kevin Holland fight? Let us know your prediction in the comments below!
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