LOS ANGELES -- Kevin Holland has a solid potential as a fighter and a quirky personality which could make him a star.
But he also was making the jump from Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contenders series to a pay-per-view main card in just over six weeks, and it proved a bit too big of a challenge. While Holland had his moments, hard-hitting Thiago Santos mostly had his way in an entertaining middleweight bout on Saturday night at UFC 227.
The judges scores were 29-27, 29-27, and 29-26 for a unanimous decision.
The action started eary, as Holland used the momentum from a sprawl to pull Santos to the mat and attempt an omoplata. When he couldn’t get that, he went for a Kimura. Santos escaped, though, and transitioned into top position, where he began to punish Holland with heavy hands. Santos stood, Holland landed a couple upkicks, and Santos went back to the mat and hit Holland with elbows.
It went this way for awhile in the second, too, before Holland escaped and had his best sequence of the fight, dropping Santos and landing elbows from side control as the round ended.
But Santos made sure Holland didn’t get back into the fight, as he threw with bad intentions over the final round and dominated things in both the standup and on the mat.
“He’s a tough guy, he plays around but I had to keep my focus and keep on fighting,” Santos said through an interpreter.
With the victory, Santos (18-6) won for the fifth time in his past six fights, while Holland, who took the bout on short notice, dropped to 12-4.