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UFC Vegas 23: 5 keys to victory for Kevin Holland


Five keys to victory for Kevin Holland against Marvin Vettori.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a more successful calendar year in MMA than Kevin Hollands 2020. Despite a global pandemic and a loss of scheduled UFC events, Holland managed to string together an incredible five-fight win streak, tying the record for most wins in a year in the process. It wasn’t just the record itself, but the fashion in which the victories were earned that was so impressive. Four of those five wins came via way of incredible KO/TKO victories, including a highlight-reel finish over middleweight legend Jacare Souza and a Knockout of the Year over Joaquin Buckley.

The immense amount of momentum accrued was brought to a halt just last month after Holland competed in his first UFC headliner against Derek Brunson. Holland was met with much criticism after having a somewhat lackluster performance coupled with his antics of talking throughout the entire fight. But in true Holland fashion, he isn’t about to let that break his stride. When Darren Till was forced to withdraw from the fight against Vettori, it didn’t take long for Holland to assume the position on short notice. A terrific opportunity to all but undo his last performance against Brunson.

The circumstances surrounding this short fight and the stylistic match-up between Vettori and Holland is a recipe for an entertaining affair no matter how it unfolds. Now that we are just days away from the contest, we will examine the five paths of victory for Holland.

Be First

Vettori is riding extremely high on confidence and is a very hungry fighter right now. He has great technical ability, but it’s toughness and tenacity to thank for his most recent successes. He is the furthest thing away from a slow starter, so it would bode well for Holland to come out with a bounce in his step and look to connect early. If he can use his speed to land some head punches and low leg kicks early, he will be able to disrupt the rhythm of Vettori and keep him from getting into the groove.

Shelf the gimmick

There’s no doubt that Holland’s verbal ways in the Octagon play a role in getting in his opponent’s head and keeping things playful so he can be as relaxed as possible while in there. But it is large in part a gimmick to entertain fans and stand out for self-promotion purposes. While it’s can make for an interesting element to a fight, it also serves as a distraction, and the last thing Holland needs against a dangerous fighter like Vettori is a distraction from the task at hand.

Avoid a firefight

A big part of what makes Holland so fun to watch is his willingness to jump into the pocket and get caught up in a brawl, winging the wide and heavy left hooks he throws coupled with other aggressive attacks. It’s an extremely risky approach that he was able to get away with against some of his past competition, but will not be able to get away with as he moves up the rankings. Holland has some bad striking defense tendencies that are accentuated in these types of moments, so it would be best to avoid being in those situations altogether.

Press Vetori against the cage

Holland will be giving up size and strength against Vettori, so it’s easier said than done. But Holland has a good track record for when he has his opponent’s backs against the cage. It seems he always has something to throw, whether it’s a foot stomp, knee to the thy, or elbow to the head. He does a really good job landing strikes in this position and if he can bring the fight to this position, he will land significant damage on Vettori and slow him down in the process.

Avoid the mat

If there’s one thing the fight against Brunson showed us, is that Holland needs to work on his takedown defense and sweeps. Given the fact that the last fight that showed us this was just last month, there hasn’t been any time to make any significant improvements in that department. Vettori is no Brunson in the grappling realm, but he is the bigger and stronger man in this fight, and certainly can muscle and control Holland on the ground.

UFC Vegas 23 takes place on Saturday, April 10, 2021, live from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, NV. Follow along with FanSided, who is on-site, for all your live news and highlights.



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