It’s been a hectic 2020 for the ‘Trailblazer’ and he’s looking to cap it off by blasting his way into the UFC rankings.
The middleweight division is shaping up to be in it’s best state since the Anderson Silva days, with plenty of top contenders and up and coming prospects.
With Israel Adesanya as the champion his closest contender currently is the man he won the belt from initially, Robert Whittaker. After his win at UFC 254, Whittaker moved back ahead of Jared Cannonier in the race for the title. Behind those there are a flood of potentials including Kelvin Gastelum, Darren Till, Jack Hermansson, Yoel Romero, Derek Brunson and Paulo Costa.
Below them though is another tier of top middleweights, waiting to break in with career defining wins over those big names.
The likes of Edmen Shahbazyan, Brad Tavares, Omari Akhmedov, Marvin Vettori and Ian Heinisch are in the top 15 of the rankings but even below that there are people knocking on the door. One of those, is Kevin Holland.
Holland is currently 6-2 in the UFC and 19-5 overall in his professional MMA career. After a submission loss to Brendan Allen in October 2019, ‘Trailblazer’ has gone on a rampage in 2020 winning three in a row including two highlight knockouts.
Firstly in May, Holland knocked out Anthony Hernandez in just 39 seconds with knees and punches, before a stunning knockout of Joaquin Buckley in August. After that a back and forth war with Britain’s Darren Stewart saw him take a split decision win although he told Dana White immediately after the fight that he believed he didn’t win the fight.
He asked for the fight to be run back but instead of that, he is now stepping in on short notice to take on Makhmud Muradov at UFC Vegas 12 where he hopes that a fourth win in five months will see him break into those rankings.
His dynamic striking has seen him draw the attention of fans this year more than ever, but his showmanship has also helped everyone take notice.
He has a habit of conversing with opponents in the middle of his fights, as seen with both Buckley and Stewart more than ever. He has the skillset to trouble a lot of guys in the division and at 27 years old, has more than enough time to work his way up.
By getting himself into the rankings before 2021 though, it sets him up for some big fights in the new year. A win this weekend will be the barrier breaker for him after taking so many short-notice bouts.
Dana White has already said he’s a fan and we already know how much he rewards those who fight the most. Kevin Holland is looking to step into the top rankings of the middleweight division and is without a doubt a name to keep an eye on in 2021.