The main UFC event on Saturday night in Las Vegas features a fascinating matchup between middleweight contender No. 7, Derek Brunson (145 at BetMGM), and Kevin Holland No. 10 (-175).
Holland arrives with an impressive job and full of confidence. After a mistake and submission to Brendan Allen in 2019, Holland won five straight bouts. Decorated with a black belt from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and a black belt from the second degree from Kung Fu. Holland is a devastating striker who has knocked out four of these last five opponents via KO or TKO, which cannot be overlooked that he has a good deal.
Holland is a few inches taller than Brunson, he’s nine years younger and he will have a four-centimeter lead in this fight. Surely Holland’s plan is to keep this confrontation going and to hit Brunson with his arm and leg kicks.
The 37-year-old Brunson appears as an underrated fighter. He faced a level of competition far superior to that of Holland, but has to grapple with Holland’s speed, skill and risk-taking. Brunson himself is adorned with a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu that complements his NCAA Division II wrestling pedigree.
Since the setbacks against Jacare Souza and current champion Israel Adesanya in 2019, Brunson has had three fights in Won episode against Ian Heinisch, Elias Theodorou and Edmund Shabazyan. The Shabazyan victory was an epic portrayal of a young play fighter with verve who turned into an absolute whuppin. Will Brunson get a young, hyped-up athlete another PhD in MMA?
I see Holland use speed, quickness and footwork to keep Brunson out and away from him. Fluid movements are mandatory for Holland to blow the incoming Brunson with precision punches, and Holland has the ability to land in one shot or out of a barrage.
Brunson must stick through the opening laps and apply pressure when Holland’s lightning and fluidity are greatest. He has to work on clearing out the dancer’s room and hurling Holland in the fence and then on the ground to make this fight ugly, dirty, and most importantly, tedious.
Holland’s movement, clout and vigor are on the Mat cushions while allowing Brunson’s floor and pounds to dominate, while simultaneously grabbing the grounded athlete’s energy. There is some risk involved in this tactic for Brunson, but I think it’s logical as he has nothing to do with Mr. Holland.
Brunson’s move from camps to Sanford MMA three fights ago put the fighter with a renewed focus revived, and for that reason I believe he is a solid choice in an underdog position.
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