For the record, Kevin Holland doesn’t mind giving out credit where credit is due.
After authoring just the second knockout in promotion history stemming from a punch from bottom position against Ronaldo Souza at UFC 256 on Saturday night, Holland dismissed the notion that his finish should top year-end award lists for knockouts. That honor, he says, belongs to Joaquin Buckley, who went viral with a spinning back kick finish of Impa Kasanganay earlier this year. Coincidentally, Holland welcomed Buckley to the Octagon with a third-round TKO at UFC Fight Night 174 on Aug. 8.
“Not KO of the year, Joaquin Buckley got KO of the year, that’s my son, I birthed him into the game and I’m super proud of him. I’d never take anything away from him,” Holland said. “I’m super happy the way this year has went, it’s fantastic, but it’s just the beginning. I’ve heard people talking online that I didn’t fight enough stiff competition this year, so let’s try and do the same thing next year with stiffer competition and then they can’t say nothing, that’s what I want.”
Holland’s signature triumph over “Jacare” completed a breakout 5-0 campaign for the fighter known as “Trailblazer.” Holland might be a shoe-in for breakout fighter of the year were it not for red-hot prospect Khamzhat Chimaev, who has received a serious push from the Las Vegas-organization after victories in his first three appearances.
After dispatching Souza, Holland called for a showdown with Chimaev at UFC Fight Night 183 next week. Chimaev was slated to face Leon Edwards at the Dec. 19 event before Edwards tested positive for COVID-19. Now, the bout is expected to be rebooked for Jan. 20.
Holland believes Chimaev’s reputation far exceeds the actual in-cage product.
“…He doesn’t have a reputation for fighting all the time. That’s just what the casuals think — that he fights all the time,” Holland said. “He fought three times this year: Two times against bums and another time against Gerald Meerschaert. Gerald Meerschaert’s not a bum, but he was coming off a knockout. He hasn’t beat anybody in the UFC with a win. But at the same time, he’s a good ticket for the UFC, so let me stop talking about somebody who can help us make money, right?”
By year’s end, it was Holland who become just the third modern era UFC competitor to go 5-0 in a calendar year — and he did so under the extenuating circumstances of a global pandemic.
“I stayed ready this year so I didn’t have to get ready,” he said. “We were supposed to fight in March, so I trained all the way up until March until the world shut down and we couldn’t do it and then we just didn’t stop down. We stayed war ready this year.
“If I broke records this year, that means I need to break more records next year. We’re just getting started. If I’m happy off what I did, that means I can’t continue to grow.”