- Derek Brunson and Kevin Holland will headline the UFC’s March 20, 2021 event.
- Brunson is the 7th ranked middleweight in the UFC while Holland recently broke into the Top 10 after a breakout 2020.
- Holland is currently listed as a slight -170 betting favorite to beat Brunson.
A showdown between Top 10 middleweights Derek Brunson and Kevin Holland will headline the UFC’s Fight Night show on March 20, 2021. No venue has been announced and the contracts have yet to be signed but both fighters have already verbally agreed to the bout.
Holland called out Brunson after his latest win and the 36-year old veteran gladly accepted the challenge from the streaking youngster. The two have since been going back and forth in social media. Now the two will have the opportunity to settle their beef inside the octagon in a fight that could have championship implications:
Derek Brunson and Kevin Holland will settle their beef in the March 20 main event, sources tell @bokamotoESPN ? pic.twitter.com/OObz0qmQgx
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) December 29, 2020
The UFC’s middleweight division is in an interesting spot this year. Middleweight champion Israel Adesanya is expected to move up in weight and challenge light heavyweight Jan Blachowicz for the 205-pound title in his first fight of 2021. Although the UFC has stated that Adesanya will get to keep his 185-pound belt, he will likely leave a void at least in the first half of 2021, leaving a possibility of having an interim champion. The winner of this March 20 bout could have the inside track to that probable interim title.
Breaking: Mr. 2020 Kevin Holland (@Trailblaze2top) will meet North Carolina’s Derek Brunson (@DerekBrunson) in a five-round main event at UFC Fight Night on March 20, per sources. https://t.co/SkVoikfwoZ
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) December 29, 2020
It was so easy for Brett Okamoto to call Kevin Holland Mr. 2020. Not only was Holland the busiest fighter in the UFC this year with five bouts, he was also the yer’s winningest fighter with a 5-0 record. By doing so, the 28-year old became the first fighter in the UFC’s middleweight division to win five bouts in one calendar year. Four of those five wins were via knockout, including his UFC 256 win over former Strikeforce middleweight champion Jacare Souza last December 12th.
Holland is a former XKO welterweight and middleweight champion who has been fighting since 2015. He has also appeared for promotions like KOTC, Legacy Fighting Championship, and Bellator before being discovered at the Contender Series. He didn’t get a UFC contract despite picking up a win in the UFC’s farm system league but was offered to fight Thiago Santos at UFC 227. Trailblazer lost that fight, but finally earned his spot in the UFC’s roster.
Since that loss to Santos, Holland has won eight out of nine fights, losing only to Brendan Allen via submission in 2019. As stated above, he has won his last five bouts and is undefeated in the UFC’s silent arena in its APEX Facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. With his recent tear, Holland has moved up the rankings and is now the promotion’s 10th ranked 185-pound fighter.
Still For Real
STILL FORREAL. ? #UFCVegas5 pic.twitter.com/j8mLrErXQG
— UFC (@ufc) August 2, 2020
Derek Brunson was once primed to challenge for the UFC middleweight title. But after suffering first round knockout loss to Robert Whitaker and a controversial decision defeat to Anderson Silva, it seemed like Brunson’s career would go downhill. But after losing four times during a six-fight period, he has picked up three straight wins and has vaulted back to no. 7 in the UFC’s middleweight rankings.
Online sportsbooks have opened their betting lines for this March 20 affair and according to SportsBetting.ag, Brunson is a slight +145 underdog against Holland who is currently listed at -170 as of December 29th. That’s not surprising, given how red hot Holland has been as of late. But don’t underestimate Brunson too because he’s been counted out too many times before and he’s still here.
In his last bout, Brunson proved that he is still for real as he handed the highly-touted Edmen Shahbazyan his first ever professional MMA loss at UFC Vegas 5 last August. Heading to the fight as a +280 betting underdog against Shahbazyan’s -360 odds, Brunson knocked out one of the UFC’s top prospects in the third round of a scheduled five-round main event. Given Brunson’s experience and knockout power, Kevin Holland is in for a real fight come March 20th.