Kevin Holland ends ‘retirement,’ will fight Stephen Thompson in December: “I’m not f***ing retired any more”

By Ryan Harkness - October 5, 2022

Kevin Holland’s surprise retirement has ended before it even got a chance to begin.

Kevin Holland Stephen Thompson

The charismatic welterweight shocked the MMA world when he followed up on a quick loss to Khamzat Chimaev at UFC 279 by announcing he was done fighting.

“I’m officially retired,” Holland confirmed on a Monday edition of his new podcast Real Eyes Recognize. “I’m retired from fighting. I had a good fight, good payday, I had a good run … Unless something super-duper magical pops up, yeah, I’m pretty happy with the way things are.”

It looks like something super-duper magical did pop up, as two days later the UFC just announced Holland will face Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson in the main event of their Orlando UFC Fight Night on December 3rd.

“Look, I said if something was magnificent and wonderful or delicious,” Holland joked on the latest episode of his podcast just two days later.

“They were asking me if I was gonna fight again,” he continued. “And I was like, I saw D-Rod [Daniel Rodriguez] get a fight with Neil Magny, the Wish list Kevin Holland. And I like Neil Magny, but he’s like the Wish list Kevin Holland. His dreads are skinnier than mine. But they gave me ‘Wonderboy.'”

“So I’m really excited about the Wonderboy fight! Just because I’ve been dealing with Wonderbread for a while, and it took a lot for this [bread] to rip but it won’t take as much for Wonderboy to break down. You get the point here. I got Wonderboy so I’m not f***ing retired any more. December 3rd, main event.”

Kevin Holland’s initial retirement announcement came on September 22nd, less than a week after his first round submission loss to Khamzat Chimaev at UFC 279. Was it just a joke or attention grab or was it serious? According to UFC president Dana White, it was just ‘Big Mouth’ being a bit emotional after getting handled the way he did.

“I think when what happened to him happens to you, I think you lay in bed at night and go, ‘Holy s***, how did that happen to me?'” White said during a Contender Series media scrum. “He’s an emotional guy. I think the emotions got the best of him. Just take some time, get back in the gym and whatever he wants to do – obviously I love the kid – whatever he wants to do, he can do. But it’s a little too soon for him to retire.”

During the fight announcement, Holland also took the opportunity to hit out at Derek Brunson, who snapped ‘Big Mouth’s’ impressive five fight win streak in March 2021 and set the blueprint for how to beat him. Now Holland will be headlining above Brunson at UFC Orlando.

“I seen Derrick Brunson talking bout Chimaev putting me straight out into retirement,” Holland said. “Well, pops, no he didn’t. He put me straight into being richer than you. Put me straight into being a main event over you.”

Brunson is set to face Jack Hermansson further down the card. Also featured at UFC Orlando: Rafaes dos Anjos vs. Bryan Barberena, Derren Elkins vs. Jonathan Pearce, Eryk Anders vs. Kyle Daukaus, and Michael Johnson vs. Marc Diakiese.


Kevin Holland UFC