Derek Brunson (+164) vs. Kevin Holland (-196)
Weight Class: Middleweight (185 lbs)
Kevin Holland will be looking to build on his wild run over the last year in his first UFC main event. The 2020 Fighter of the Year will be facing a very tough test in UFC veteran Derek Brunson.
Brunson has put together a nice little streak himself. Since losing to Israel Adesanya in late 2018, the North Carolina native has three victories in as many outings. This includes thorough decision victories over Elias Theodorou, Ian Heinisch and most recently, the highly touted Edmen Shahbazyan
The win over Shahbazyan was arguably the biggest of Brunson’s career. Shahbazyan is a very crafty kickboxer who many were looking at as a potential contender. Brunson closed as close to a 3-to-1 underdog in the fight but ultimately, it was all his night.
Many thought that if Brunson was to beat Shahbazyan, it would mean using a heavy wrestling game plan. That wasn’t the whole story, as the then 36 year-old ended the fight with a hook shot in round 3.
It was clear that the “gatekeeper” talk clearly annoyed Brunson, and it’s tough to blame him. The fighters labeled as “gatekeepers” are elite fighters. For one reason or another, they typically come up short against a future champion. Then they get labeled as “gatekeepers” and people use MMA math to assume that some new prospect will easily sidestep them.
This clearly wasn’t the case then and it won’t be tonight. Derek Brunson has very heavy wrestling to go along with powerful hooks. He will certainly have a speed disadvantage in this one, but it would be foolish to think Holland is a lock by any stretch.
With that said, I do think that this is Kevin Holland’s fight to lose. His 2020 run speaks for itself, so the momentum is certainly there. On top of that, I think that Kevin Holland will prove to be too quick for Brunson.
Holland has great scrambles and as we saw in his most recent bout, he can certainly do damage from his back. If Brunson is to win, he will likely have to pummel Holland and tire him out. If he can’t do this, I think Holland will pick him apart from the outside while employing heavy volume as always.
Holland by knockout isn’t the worst play in the world, as he’s been knocking a-lot of guys out. I’m not comfortable enough to bet it, however, and could see this going to points.
At (-195), this is still a great line for Holland as a parlay piece. I managed to get in a bit earlier and placed 1u on Kevin Holland moneyline at (-162). I also placed .5u on a parlay of Holland moneyline and Vicente Luque moneyline for UFC 260.