UFC middleweight veteran Derek Brunson (21-7-0) will fight rising star Kevin Holland (21-5-0) on March 20, 2021. Ahead of the bout, Brunson revealed why he picked Holland as his opponent and his game plan for the upcoming bout.
Brunson and Holland have developed quite the rivalry. Per Holland, it all started when he turned down Brunson’s request to help prepare for a fight against Israel Adesanya. The quarrel escalated after Holland’s win over Anthony Hernandez, and the duo has been publicly trading words since then.
Holland had a great 2020, as he picked up five wins in a row. Four of them came via knockouts. Brunson, on the other hand, competed just once last year. He scored an impressive stoppage win over Ronda Rousey’s protégé, Edmen Shahbazyan.
Derek Brunson Admits Kevin Holland Was Last on His Hit List
Generally, when fighters are eyeing a title shot, they target opponents above their rank. Derek Brunson (#10), however, picked a fight with an opponent ranked lower than him. In an interview with BT Sport, Brunson explained why he is fighting Holland (#7) and not someone above his rank.
No, it is not because of their beef on social media.
“I was looking for really like a [Paulo] Costa, a [Robert] Whittaker rematch would have been great, [Jared] Cannonier fight would have been great, [Jack] Hermansson fight I was asking for quite a few times,” Brunson said. “And that fight [with Hermansson] came to me only on a week’s notice, or two weeks’ notice. I’m not gonna take that.
“But yeah, I was looking for those types of fights, and I was getting no traction with those. So, the [only fighter available was] Holland. He talks a lot, he’s a hype fight. But yeah, that would have been the last of my fights that I named. I was looking for those guys in the top five for sure.”
Should Brunson lose this bout, his rank will undoubtedly drop. But if he wins the fight, he will gain a lot of attention from the casual fans. Although a title shot after beating Holland seems far-fetched, it cannot be counted out.
Kevin Holland is known to use his trash talk to get in his opponents’ heads, inside and outside the cage. Nevertheless, Derek Brunson seemed unbothered about it during the interview.
The 37-year-old plans to strategically pick apart his opponent and not get overexcited or overextend himself during the bout. Besides that, Brunson also stated his intentions to finish the fight.