Kevin Holland is returning to the Octagon with one goal in mind: to knock Stephen Thompson out.
Following his first-round submission loss to Khamzat Chimaev at UFC 279, Holland surprised fans and media alike by announcing his sudden retirement from mixed martial arts. However, as most MMA retirements go, this one was short-lived, and the ‘Trailblazer’ was scheduled to fight again in the headliner of UFC Orlando against Thompson.
Sharing the Octagon with someone like Thompson was a dream for Holland, who told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour recently that he would ’never turn down a ‘Wonderboy’ fight, especially since it is a ‘much bigger’ opportunity for him. And he is excited to capitalize on it by doing what only one fighter — Anthony Pettis — has done to Thompson in his professional career.
“I don’t plan on going in there and shooting for any takedowns against ‘Wonderboy,’” said Holland. “I mean, to be 100 percent honest with you, I plan on knocking ‘Wonderboy’ the f—k out. I think ‘Wonderboy’ is a fantastic fighter, I think his style is wonderful, it’s his name. But that being said, Pettis was able to knock him out and I think that I’m going to be able to knock him out. I think Pettis was able to find his chin and I think I’m going to be able to find his chin. And I think when I find his chin, I think I hit a little bit harder than Anthony Pettis. So we shall find out.”
Though set on his game plan for Thompson, Holland admitted there is a risk going in there and trying to trade with him. But it is one he is willing to take, so he still sees his hand being raised.
“Let’s not get this mistaken, a lot of people who go out there and strike with ‘Wonderboy’ usually look crazy,” said Holland. Geoff Neal, a friend and a foe. Dude can strike. Dude can strike really well, couldn’t strike with ‘Wonderboy’. Vicente Luque, strikes really well — and these are two completely different styles of striking — couldn’t strike with ‘Wonderboy’. You know? Pettis is a crafty motherf—ker, he figured it out.
“I like to think I’m pretty crafty, too,” continued Holland. “I think I can figure it out. I think my Kung Fu beats his Karate.”
UFC Orlando goes down on Sat., Dec. 3, at the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla.