NEW YORK – Kevin Holland wants to fight fire with fire.
Holland (23-8 MMA, 10-5 UFC) has no intention of using grappling in his upcoming bout against expert striker Stephen Thompson (16-6-1 MMA, 11-6-1 UFC). The two are set to clash in a five-round main event at UFC on ESPN 42, which takes place Dec. 3 in Orlando.
Although Holland has 15 UFC fights under his belt, the upcoming bout against “Wonderboy” stands out. He sees it as a great opportunity to out-strike Thompson and prove he’s one of the best standup fighters in the UFC.
“It’s not really a stand-and-bang (fight), it’s a real technical standup fight, and you have to implement certain things to get to ‘Wonderboy’ and have your way with ‘Wonderboy,’” Holland told reporters at backstage at UFC 281 this past week. “I plan on implementing those things, and I plan on showing that I can strike with the best of them.
“Its’s just a very, very fun matchup. Talk about a guy that’s fought for a world title, that’s fought some of the best out there at the top of the weight class for a long time. If you do want a number next to your name, you have to go through somebody like that.”
The 39-year-old Thompson is currently on a two-fight losing skid. The defeats came against top contenders Gilbert Burns and Belal Muhammad, who had grappling-based game plans.
Holland still sees Thompson as a game and dangerous opponent despite the losses. Yet, he feels he has the tools to solve the puzzle on the feet.
“He’s lost to people who’ve decided to grapple the whole time,” Holland said of Thompson. “People who decide to strike with him usually don’t have a good night, unless you’re Anthony Pettis. I think I’m just as creative as Anthony, even though he’s shown a lot of creativity inside that octagon, that cage. But yeah, against ‘Wonderboy’ there’s only one way to go, and that’s forward.”