Kevin Holland: Derek Brunson has been on the hit list for years

For no. 10 ranked middleweight Kevin Holland, the last calendar year has been simply unreal, and not because of the pandemic.

He started off last year by knocking out Anthony Hernandez inside of 40 seconds last May.  He continued on a historic run as he defeated the likes of Joaquin Buckley, Darren Stewart, Charlie Ontiveros, and Jacare Souza all within the year of 2020.

Not only did Holland tie the UFC record for most victories in a calendar year with five, he went on that five-fight winning streak within a seven-month period.

Kevin Holland KOs Jacare Souza at UFC 256
Kevin Holland KOs Jacare Souza at UFC 256

After rightfully earning the respect of the fans, fellow fighters and perhaps most importantly UFC president Dana White, “Trailblazer” is enjoying the fruits of his labor.

Making it to the Joe Rogan Experience podcast

One of those luxuries Holland was able to enjoy since his historic seven months in 2020, was appearing on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast earlier this year.

“Dreams do come true. It was super amazing,” Holland said. “The first show me and my mom ever watched together besides ‘Lifetime’ was ‘Fear Factor.’ So being able to go onto the Joe Rogan podcast to me was amazing.”

Holland also shared that the transmission to his car broke down on the drive to Rogan’s studio. He said, if necessary, he would have taken the challenge as a token of initiation as a contestant on Fear Factor.

“I would’ve drove my whole car there backwards the whole f—ing time. I love Joe Rogan,” Holland said. “I’m glad I made that, that was amazing.”

Kevin Holland finally draws Derek Brunson

Holland is now focused on his main event matchup against no. 7 ranked middleweight Derek Brunson at UFC Vegas 22.

It’s safe to say both fighters have had their eyes on one another for some time now. 

After Thiago Santos’ decision victory over Holland at UFC 227, Brunson gave him props and Holland replied thankfully.

Or at least, one would think.

“That was my manager that responded to him on Twitter. I don’t run my Twitter,” Holland said. “But in 2018, I would have told him thank you just like I would tell him thank you now. It’s just a respectful part of me. But that being said, in 2018 when I got in the UFC after losing to Thiago Santos, I told my manager, ‘We’re staying at 185 pounds. Derek Brunson’s on the hit list.’ So here we are in 2021, Derek Brunson’s here, I’m here. He’s for sure on the hit list, so now I just gotta go hit him.”

Some fighters prefer to solely focus on the fight in front of them without pondering what could be next.

UFC Vegas 22 Live Results: Brunson vs. Holland

Why is Kevin Holland considering a move back to welterweight next?

While Holland is focused on the challenge that Brunson presents, he has given legitimate thought about what he’s interested in next. 

To the surprise of many, it could be a move back to welterweight. 

“I’m definitely focused on the task at hand. But with a victory over Derek Brunson, I keep telling everybody and everybody thinks I’m playin’. I wanna go down to 170 pounds and fight Kamaru Usman for the belt. Or Jorge Masvidal for the BMF belt. One or the other.”

Holland sees complications within the middleweight division as a result of Israel Adesanya going up to challenge for the light heavyweight title. When asked if he’d be interested in the winner of Robert Whittaker vs. Kelvin Gastelum, Holland was candid and honest (as usual).

“If the winner of Kelvin Gastelum and Whittaker is Whittaker, then Whittaker should be fighting for the title,” Holland said. “Hell, I feel like lowkey Whittaker should be fighting for the title now. But unfinished business between him and Kelvin Gastelum makes sense. The winner of that fight should be fighting for the title.”

Just when people start to think Holland has made a comfy home for himself in the middleweight division, he doubles back and changes course.

Why? Because that’s what a trailblazer does.

“Right now, I feel like [middleweight] is kind of stagnant,” Holland said. “I’d like to create some buzz at 170 and then come back up to 185.” 

UFC Vegas 22: Brunson vs. Holland Preview Show

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