Kevin Holland was originally scheduled to fight Antonio Arroyo in November in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Then, an opportunity arose to face a familiar regional foe in one of the greatest fighting cities in the world.
Holland will replace Eric Spicely to face Brendan Allen at UFC on ESPN 6, which was first reported by MMA Junkie. The event will take place next Friday, Oct. 18 at the TD Garden in Boston, Mass. While the opportunity to fight Allen was an exciting one, he now gets to compete on the card he had hoped to get on.
“My manager hit me up and said they needed someone to fight Brendan Allen Oct. 18 in Boston,” Holland told BJPENN.com. “It was the card I originally wanted to be on and my manager asked if I wanted it. I said yes, I would take it. He said, ‘Just like that? You don’t want to look at any tape or nothing?’. I was like, ‘you must’ve forgot’, I was supposed to fight Brendan Allen in Louisiana for chump change, for an LFA belt. Now we get to go fight Brendan Allen in Boston, have a Boston Tea Party AKA a Boston Massacre when I whoop this boy.
“I’m for it. I was supposed to fight him for a couple grand, now I get to fight him for a lot more than a couple grand.”
While Kevin Holland has never been to Boston, the home of the Celtics, he is excited to walk into the arena and look up at the many championship banners the Celtics have raised to the rafters. Those banners will not just be a reminder of titles won for the team in green, but also the ones that couldn’t capture — some of which at the hands of the team Holland has always been a fan of.
“Boston fans may get mad at me for this but it is what it is, I’m a Laker fan,” Holland said. “I bleed purple and gold. We know there’s a rivalry there and I know that anytime a team like ours has a rivalry, that team has to be great as well. I fought in L.A. at the Staples Center and now I get to fight in Boston. Growing up, I used to listen to my Grandpa always talk about those rivalries, seen a couple myself and it’s a dream come true. I feel like Kobe (Bryant), Game 7, baby. Let’s get it!”
With Allen being from Louisiana and Holland being from Texas, it would only be natural that their paths would cross at some point in their rise to the UFC. Although it has been close to happening, a fight between the two had never been made official.
Both fighters earned their opportunities to compete for the UFC based on their respective appearances on Dana White’s Contender Series. Holland made his UFC debut on short notice against light heavyweight title challenger Thiago Santos at UFC 227 in April 2018 losing a unanimous decision, but impressing UFC president Dana White in the process.
Holland believes his road — and his season of talent — was a little bit more difficult in terms of opposition than his upcoming opponent.
“I’ve watched him fight quite a bit,” Kevin Holland stated. “He’s fought for the LFA belt four times, got it on the fourth try. Not the first time, second time, or third try, we’re talking baseball — three strikes and he’s out of there. They gave it to him on the fourth try, then he got a fight on the Contender Series and then he so happened to get in the UFC.
“Look, that season that I fought on the Contender Series it was kind of rough to get on there. I thought this past season, I though Dana White was a little nicer, which is great because I like more fresh blood in the UFC. When it comes to him, I’ve been watching him for a while. I’ve seen him choked several times. I’m surprised he pulled of the Contender Series fight but the guy he was fighting was kind of a bum — not like the guy I fought on the Contender Series. He chokes in his UFC debut and I’m glad it’s not Eric Spicely beating him, it’s me.
“Eric Spicely was a good fight for him,” Holland continued. “It was kind of an easy fight for him because Spicely is not that athletic. He’s got pretty good grappling but he’s not athletic. Brendan Allen has pretty good grappling. I’m athletic, I’ve got good grappling, I can strike, I can do everything. I just can’t f****n wrestle. So let’s fight! If you take me down, I’ll stand right back up and smack you a couple of times. Let’s scrap in Boston!”
It will be a special moment for Holland to grace the historic TD Garden arena floor and compete next Friday in Boston. Although he is a fan of the Celtics’ biggest league rival, “Trail Blazer” respects the rich sports history the City of Boston has to offer. That’s why he plans to entertain the Boston crowd and leave the judges out of it on Oct. 18.
“Man, he’s gonna press for takedowns,” Kevin Holland said. “He’s gonna pressure, he’s gonna try to say that he’ll bring his running shoes because he knows my style… bring your running shoes. You’re gonna run into this, you’re gonna run into that. Then you’re gonna drop on the floor, you’re gonna get hit with this, get hit with that. You think you can grapple, I can grapple too. At the end of the day, wherever Brandan Allen thinks the fight may go, just know I can probably finish you there too.”