Kevin Holland knows how to make a lasting impression.
After first landing on the UFC radar by way of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, Holland was singled out by the UFC president after his performance but not necessarily because of the way he won.
Instead, Dana White said that Holland talked too much and didn’t do enough to finish his fight, thus he didn’t earn a UFC contract that night. Fast forward a few weeks later and Holland accepted a short notice bout against Thiago Santos and while he didn’t get the win, he gave the well known knockout artist everything he could handle for three straight rounds.
Once again, White was talking about Holland but this time it was due to his performance and willingness to face an impossibly tough challenge on incredibly short notice.
Now for the second time in his brief UFC career, Holland will step up once again on short notice when he faces John Phillips on Saturday in China. It wasn’t the ideal situation but Holland wanted the toughest challenges thrown his way and that’s why he didn’t hesitate when the UFC came calling.
“I’m trying to prove that I can be Donald Cerrone in his prime,” Holland told MMAWeekly. “Just stepping up and taking fights and smacking guys and getting bonuses. I’m about staying active. I don’t like staying at home on the couch for too long. I get stuck in my video games.”
This weekend, Holland faces Phillips in a middleweight battle that potentially has ‘Fight of the Night’ written all over it.
Phillips trains out of SBG Ireland, the same gym responsible for Conor McGregor, and his nickname prior to the UFC was ‘the White Mike Tyson’ and even Holland got a kick out of that one.
“He called himself the ‘white Mike Tyson’ so of course I’m hoping he tries to catch me on the feet,” Holland said. “My kung fu is strong. SBG is known for their striking so I hope he comes out there and tests it against me. It will be a bad night if he goes out there and strikes against me.
“They say he’s the white Mike Tyson. I guess I’m Buster Douglas.”
Because of the notoriety that McGregor brings to his home gym, many of the fighters who train alongside him end up as targets from other athletes on the UFC roster.
In Holland’s case, he actually respects SBG head coach John Kavanagh and the students he’s produced over the years but that won’t save Phillips from the fight he has coming to him on Saturday.
“I really believe if he chooses to go out there and stand up, I will get a knockout bonus,” Holland said. “If he has the heart and he has a ‘Proper 12’ then maybe it will be a ‘Fight of the Night’ bonus. If not, if he chooses to shoot for some stupid takedown, I will take these long, deadly arms and I will wrap them around this throat until he’s blue and purple all over.
“He just needs to slip up once or twice. Maybe on the 12th shot and it will be a proper knockout.”
Obviously the ‘proper’ knockout is reference to McGregor’s brand of whiskey that he’s been pushing for the last few months but don’t take Holland’s words as a slight to the Irishman’s name brand of alcohol.
Actually, Holland says he’s a big supporter of McGregor, his career and even his whiskey and”I talk all my stuff but make no mistake about it — I am a huge Conor McGregor fan. I’m one of the biggest Conor McGregor fans. When Proper 12 dropped, I went up there and bought like five or six bottles. Definitely looking forward to taking a shot with them. I look forward to it.”
he hopes they can toast a glass to show no hard feelings after his teammate gets knocked out in China.
“I talk all my stuff but make no mistake about it — I am a huge Conor McGregor fan. I’m one of the biggest Conor McGregor fans,” Holland said. “When Proper 12 dropped, I went up there and bought like five or six bottles. Definitely looking forward to taking a shot with them. I look forward to it.”