On this episode of Trading Places, we catch up with Kevin Holland, who was originally scheduled to fight Jack Hermansson last weekend, but swapped dates with Marvin Vettori, who capitalized on the opportunity in spectacular fashion. Vettori’s originally scheduled opponent, Ronaldo Jacare Souza, will be looking to spoil Holland’s undefeated year.
Holland is riding a four-fight win streak which includes finishes of Anthony Hernandez, Joaquin Buckley and Charlie Ontiveros, all by some form of KO/TKO. His only losses in the UFC have come by unanimous decision to Thiago Santos, and a rear naked choke at the hands of Brendan Allen.
Holland is a rangey and technical kick boxer with an excellent feel for the octagon. He fights behind a tight jab with a lot of pop, strings together nasty three and four piece combinations and mixes in kicks the entire fight.
He generally looks to stay on the outside and pick opponents apart, but he has no problem trading shots and can usually move his head out of range just in time when he’s in the pocket. He can slow the action down in the clinch if needed and keeps a great pace there with his knees and elbows. He’s very strong against the fence.
Holland has decent wrestling skills but can’t be mistaken for a grappler. His takedown defense has relatively held up when he has been tested, but he hasn’t bee tested much. He does have submissions, though he likely won’t be finding any against Jacare Souza, a black belt in both jiu jitsu and judo.
The ground will likely be the only place that Souza will have an advantage and, in most of his recent fights, he hasn’t been very able to get the fights to the canvas. He’s been standing and striking with some of the best in the light heavyweight and middleweight divisions and, generally, getting beaten doing it.
Jacare is a power puncher on his feet, sitting back and letting the fight come to him and looking for big hooks and overhands. If this is the approach he takes against Holland, he’s going to have a very long night trying to get Holland, who holds a nine-inch reach advantage here, to trade shots in the pocket.
Even if Jacare does go for takedowns and an eventual submission, we’re not sold that he’ll be strong enough to overpower Holland and get him to the ground. Holland’s takedown defense has held up over the course of his career and Jacare is not nearly as dominant in that department as he once was.
This fight is obvious and we weren’t even going to bother doing a write-up, until we saw the early money coming in on Jacare. This line opened with Holland as a -140 favorite, and that wasn’t high enough. To see the line run down to -125 at time of writing, Tuesday 12/8, is an apparent gift to us from the betting public.
Holland is too long, too fast and too technically sound for Jacare to get inside and land the shots he’s looking for, or get in on Holland’s legs. We’re calling a very confident shot on this one- Holland is going to pick Souza apart. It’s going to be a 15-minute striking clinic.
Holland is one of our favorite picks on this card, and he will likely be finishing this fight, late, if not winning a unanimous decision. Or maybe a split decision, if Chris Lee is scoring the contest.