Kevin Holland might be a bit of a rarity in the UFC when it comes to his long term goals and aspirations.
As he prepares for his first main event in a bout against Derek Brunson at UFC Vegas 22 on Saturday night, the Texas native isn’t concerned as much about what a win will do for his career. He’ll take it, though, if it moves him closer to a title shot.
In theory, Brunson represents the gateway to the top-five ranked fighters at middleweight considering the other people to beat him in the past five years are former champions and top contenders in the division.
But that doesn’t concern Holland all that much, because he prefers to look at a win over Brunson as the stepping stone to an even bigger paycheck and a chance to turn around and compete again sooner rather than later.
I guess beating Derek Brunson does kind of show you how big your d*ck is, so that’s pretty cool,” Holland said when speaking to MMA Fighting. “That’s pretty nice. Beating Brunson kind of tells you where you’re going to be at, I guess you could say. But that being said, I’m not one of those guys running around searching for gold. I’m one of those guys running around searching for a bunch of skulls to put on my mantle. Knocking Derek Brunson out, like I said, fresh air. That’s all it is.
“He’s a person who talks a little bit of sh*t. I’m a person that talks a whole lot of sh*t so when I smack him and I whack him and he can’t get back up, I’m a happy man. Beating him, what does it say about my future? It just says I’m ready for the next person. Who’s next after that? It don’t matter who’s next after that. I see they got a lot of fights booked at 185 and vaginal muscles get pulled all the time and it seems like a lot of these guys got vaginal muscles, so I’ll be there.”
Holland isn’t one to bite his tongue when it comes to opinions on fighters in his own division, or pretty much anyone else for that matter. As soon as the fight with Brunson was booked, he lamented about facing a “gatekeeper” in his first UFC main event, but he eventually found a reason to look at the matchup with a more positive attitude.
“I’m really happy about the Derek Brunson fight for many, many different reasons,” Holland explained. “People say I have a problem with grapplers. Derek Brunson may not be a black belt in jiu-jitsu but he is a very, very good wrestler and if you translate the wrestling with the ability to grapple, you might as well say the guy’s a high level purple belt or a brown belt. It’s interesting to go out there and to fight somebody with the capability to smash me.
“At the same time, for a gatekeeper to be my very first fight as a main event in the UFC, it’s kind of not that great. Like damn but at the same time, I find motivation anywhere and everywhere and there’s plenty of motivation there with Derek Brunson.”
The war of words between Holland and Brunson heated up as soon as the UFC matched them up together, though both have been quieter since as each got deeper into training camp.
Of course, Holland hasn’t forgotten anything Brunson said about him or his resume, which is why he was more than happy to repay the favor when asked about his upcoming opponent’s recent three-fight win streak capped off by a lopsided TKO finish against previously undefeated prospect Edmen Shahbazyan.
“I’m not impressed,” Holland said. “Just like he said he wasn’t impressed with my win over [Ronaldo] ‘Jacare’ [Souza], who beat him twice. Knocked him out. Manhandled him. Just like he wasn’t impressed with that victory, I’m not impressed with the victories that he’s had. In my situation, it’s no disrespect to the guy at all. [Edmen] Shahbazyan wasn’t beaten. Everybody says people who haven’t been beat, the 0, the 0, the 0. The 0 just means you probably don’t know what it’s like to go through a seriously hard grind. Derek Brunson put him in a serious, hard grind and the guy broke.
“I’ve been through a serious hard grind. I’ve got 5 L’s. I’ve got losses as a Muay Thai fighter, too. I’ve got L’s on my record. I’ve got a lot of losses in jiu-jitsu, too. I’m not stressing it. He wants to come in here grinding against me. That’s perfectly fine. Grinding’s not going to break me. I’m going to keep smacking until the judges decide I lost. You’re not going to finish me, Brunson. You’re not that type of fighter to finish me. Your jiu-jitsu’s not that f**king good, let’s be real.”