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UFC Vegas 22: Derek Brunson vs. Kevin Holland preview and prediction

Preview and prediction for Derek Brunson vs. Kevin Holland at UFC Vegas 22.

After surging his method to an unbelievable 2020 marketing campaign, Kevin Holland will get one other powerful job as he appears to interrupt additional into the UFC middleweight contender image. He’ll must get previous a veteran contender in Derek Brunson, nevertheless, in the principle occasion of UFC Vegas 22 on March 20.

Brunson has been within the UFC for practically a decade and has lengthy been thought-about a reputation and potential contender within the division. His record of UFC victories embody Chris Leben, Lorenz Larkin, Ed Herman, Sam Alvey, Uriah Corridor and Lyoto Machida. Brunson, nevertheless, has been seen by some for some time as a “gatekeeper” on account of his seeming incapability to win on a much bigger stage or in opposition to a younger up-and-comer, seen in losses to Yoel Romero, Robert Whittaker, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and present UFC middleweight champ Israel Adesanya.

Brunson, nevertheless, could also be shaking off that “gatekeeper” declare. After scoring a unanimous resolution win over Elias Theodorou in Might 2019, Brunson held off Ian Heinisch at UFC 241 earlier than ending Edmen Shahbazyan in August, handing “The Golden Boy” his first MMA loss.

Holland, in the meantime, has come a great distance since his win over Will Santiago Jr. on Dana White’s Contender Sequence. After going the gap in a loss to Thiago Santos at UFC 227, Holland racked up wins over John Phillips, Gerald Meerschaert and Alessio Di Chirico earlier than being submitted by Brendan Allen. Then, in 2020, Holland exploded in hype and highlights, scoring TKOs of Anthony Hernandez and Joaquin Buckley, a cut up resolution win over Darren Stewart, a submission by way of slam over Charlie Ontiveros and a formidable 105-second end of Souza.

Holland’s 5 finishes tied a UFC report for many wins in a calendar 12 months and earned him FanSided MMA’s 2020 Fighter of the 12 months honors.

Who will win at UFC Vegas 22: Derek Brunson or Kevin Holland?

Holland seems to have the bodily edges on the Story of the Tape, having a two-inch peak benefit and a four-inch attain benefit, along with being about eight years Brunson’s junior.

Per FightMetrics, Holland’s offensive output numbers are a bit higher than Brunson’s, although the 2 are practically equal by way of their defensive placing statistics. The grappling can be Brunson’s division right here, nevertheless, averaging about three takedowns per quarter-hour and a one hundred pc takedown protection share.

Holland is certainly the extra explosive and faster fighter right here with some nice placing, albeit although not the very best grappling. He’ll assault early, he’ll assault with energy off the bat and he can rock his opponents fairly rapidly. That being mentioned — is Holland overhyped? He’s actually made a reputation for himself and has plenty of momentum for good purpose, however Brunson has confronted much more skilled competitors, and as such, Brunson would be the largest take a look at in Holland’s profession thus far.

Brunson is the form of fighter who will are available in rapidly for an assault, possessing some nice energy of his personal along with his expert-level wrestling and grappling. With Brunson, it appears he must get the higher hand from the beginning or for his opponent for Brunson to be led to success. He’ll be seeking to get this struggle to the bottom fast, the place he can take a look at Holland, or discover the primary rocking strike of the competition.

Holland is actually a step quicker than Brunson and a bit crisper of a striker, which might play a giant distinction, particularly if he’s in a position to maintain his personal with Brunson on the bottom. Brunson, nevertheless, shouldn’t be written off as a simple opponent for Holland to run by given his personal means to endure strikes and grind somebody out and overwhelm them with grappling.

It will not be the explosive or early end that some would possibly count on or need, and Brunson very a lot has a very good likelihood on this struggle to cease Holland’s hype prepare like he did Shahbazyan’s — we had by no means seen Shahbazyan look as dangerous as he did in opposition to Brunson, and perhaps Holland might be the identical approach. But when Holland can keep affected person, be selective and elusive, keep his cardio and struggle off Brunson’s grappling, it might be one other large victory in his quest to be the UFC’s subsequent main breakout star.

Prediction: Holland by way of unanimous resolution

UFC Vegas 22 takes place on Saturday, March 20, 2021, reside from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, NV. Observe together with FanSided for all of your reside information and highlights.