Well Kevin Holland has been active. At the press conference for UFC 279, Holland and main event headliner Khamzat Chimaev got into a shoving match and all hell broke loose getting the press conference canceled all together. But the show must go on and Kevin Holland is fighting Daniel Rodriguez, a well rounded fighter and a tough challenge for Holland. Let’s break down the fight!
UFC 279 Tale of the Tape
Kevin Holland had been touted as the next big thing in MMA and he’s been anything but that going into the fight with Rodriguez. Unfocused and allergic to wrestling, Holland has struggled. But that hasn’t stopped fans from fawning over him. It’s easy to see why. Holland has fast hands and a very good highlight reel because of it.
After fighting Jacare Souza and knocking him out with punches from a scramble, Holland dropped two straight at 185 to Derek Brunson and Marvin Vettori, two top names in the division. This prompted his move down to his correct weight class of welterweight. Since then he’s won two straight against veterans Alex Oliveira and Tim Means, looking impressive in both fights.
Daniel Rodriguez has been on a run in the UFC recently. While he hasn’t set the world on fire, he’s notched some good wins since coming to the UFC. In his debut in 2020, he choked out Tim Means. He’s also got wins over Dwight Grant and Gabe Green. In November 2020, he dropped a decision to Nicolas Daley. But since then, he’s got wins over Mike Perry, Preston Parsons, and Kevin Lee, the last of which was his most impressive win yet. Rodriuez brings good hands but also has slick jiu jitsu that will surprise many.
Kevin Holland: Keep it dialed in
Kevin Holland has struggled in the past being focused. At 185, he was getting mauled by Derek Brunson and kept talking to Khabib who was ring side, saying he needed the Dagestani champion’s help. He then was beat soundly by Vettori but was more focused.
First thing for Holland is to get in there and actually fight instead of putting on a show first. Against Oliveira and Means, he did just that. The results showed. Two finishes in and Holland is back on track.
Next thing I want to see from Holland is a bit of what we saw him do in the Means fight. In the diagram above, we see how Holland set up the choke by changing levels. (1) Holland and Means are in the center of the cage and (2) Holland dips to throw a jab to the body. Notice how Holland has slapped at the leg and showed a takedown which has Means lowering his hand. (3) Holland comes up top and lands but doesn’t finish.
The finish was much of the same read from Holland. (4) Holland throws to the body as Means push kicks. But the change in level has Means lowering his hand and (5) THWACK! Holland puts Tim Means Down.
Against Rodriguez, I want to see Holland mixing things up with his hands and showing a bunch of body work to Rodriguez who is now coming up five pounds.
Daniel Rodriguez: Put the “mixed” in “mixed martial arts”
Daniel Rodriguez is a bit odd of a fighter. He’s very underrated and has a good skill set. His hands are his best attribute. He outboxed Mike Perry when many fans decided that he was a sacrificial lamb. He also pieced up Kevin Lee on his way out of the UFC.
For Daniel Rodriguez, he needs to remember there’s more than just striking. Holland will have the reach and speed advantage. And we know that Holland isn’t the best wrestler. Rodriguez can wrestle, albeit not great, but it is passable. First and foremost, anyone that fights Kevin Holland will go to the wrestling. Or at least they should. Rodriguez needs to get the fight to the fence and to the ground where he can do some damage. He will need to be mindful of the jiu jitsu, sure, but against the fence, he can negate a bunch of that.
The main event may be in jeopardy for UFC 279, but should the card still go down, which it will, this fight could be one of the better ones on the night with how good both fighters are.
In addition to covering the UFC for My MMA News, Blaine Henry, the author, also analyzes fights from all combat sports across the globe.
Your friendly neighborhood fight fan. I watch way too many fights and my wife lets me know it.