It turns out Kevin Holland’s decision to move to welterweight actually came as a result of his attempt to pack on the pounds.
As strange as that might sound, the always outspoken former Contender Series competitor was looking to bulk up before booking his next fight at 185 pounds after he suffered back-to-back losses to Derek Brunson and Marvin Vettori in fights where he was largely bullied on the ground.
In order to better compete with the bigger fighters at middleweight — especially the wrestlers — Holland felt like it was time for him to add some extra muscle mass to his frame.
“I had that time off after the two losses back-to-back and I bought a bunch of weights and stuff like that,” Holland explained when speaking to MMA Fighting. “I got a bad ass weight set for the house. Doing a bunch of lifting. Every time I’d go out of town, I’d book a hotel with the best lifting spots. I’d lift and I was getting into the lifting lifestyle. I’m going to be like Jon Jones, you know what I mean? Big!
“It just didn’t work out. Could never gain the weight. The more I lifted, the more I eat, the more I sh*t.”
According to Holland, he would typically weigh no more than 198 pounds walking around prior to a fight and he’d sometimes end up as low as 192 pounds while still in the midst of a training camp.
Some middleweights drop upwards of at least 20 pounds, which meant Holland was constantly giving up a lot of size and strength to his opponents.
“It never really made a difference but when you get to the top 10, top 15, those guys just know how to use their weight a little better,” Holland said. “They like to make love inside the octagon. So you have to watch those types of things.
“So I prefer my women a certain size when I’m making love so I’ve got to make sure men are a certain size, too. Just make love making a little bit easier.”
That ultimately led to Holland’s decision to return to welterweight where he had previously competed in several fights before joining the UFC roster.
The biggest difference between then and now is Holland admitting that he didn’t take the weight cut seriously during the earlier stages of his career, which cost him when it came time to shed those last few pounds to step on the scale.
“The last time I did it, it wasn’t so swell but I didn’t take the camp serious whatsoever,” Holland said. “It was the first time ever trying to work on my rap career, my trap career. I was out there drinking every night, smoking every night, having a good old time. I was living the party life. It was close to the summertime. Boy, everybody that knows me in the summer, knows it’s a fun summer.
“I wasn’t taking the diet serious whatsoever. I was eating peanut butter cookies every night. I’m not saying I don’t still eat peanut butter cookies, but you know how the game goes. I’ve just gotten more disciplined as I’ve gotten older plus I don’t think my body’s trying to grow anymore. I think my body’s like ‘this is where you are, kid, enjoy it.’”
Now there will certainly be detractors who will say Holland is fleeing middleweight because he couldn’t deal with opponents who were simply outgrappling him, which could still be a problem at 170 pounds with fighters such as Khamzat Chimaev, Colby Covington and reigning champion Kamaru Usman all coming from wrestling backgrounds.
He’s quick to answer that criticism by pointing out that no one at 185 pounds truly beat him up on the ground but rather it came down to a game of control where he just couldn’t get out from underneath the physically bigger and stronger fighters.
“Make no mistake about it, I’m getting humped by these huge ass guys at 185,” Holland said. “They’re not doing no damage, they’re just laying on top of me. I go down 170 pounds, if I can get up from these guys who are pretty good wrestlers at 85, I know for sure what I can do at 170.
“The toughest fights at 70 would probably be a Leon Edwards, [Kamaru] Usman and [Khamzat] Chimaev. Other than that, everybody else is [getting] dog walked. I’m running these fools over. I don’t care if they’ve got an undefeated record or not. I’m going to show them who the big man is at 170. Once I get done with that, once I get a title, I can go up to 185 and fight the champ [Israel Adesanya]. I’m tired of fighting all these humpers anyways. That’s the only striker left around here that’s anywhere near my weight class.”
After an ankle injury prevented him from competing in November, Holland is now back in training while targeting a late January or early February 2022 return to action for his UFC welterweight debut.
Known for his willingness to take on any challenge — even those with very little notice — Holland has no problem facing whoever the UFC throws at him, although he has a few names that would sit near the top of his wish list.
“I’m looking at the guys in the top 15 and I like every single one of them,” Holland said. “D-Rod (Daniel Rodriguez) is a very, very fun fight coming down. Very, very fun fight. I’ve got a lot of respect for the way D-Rod fights. I’ve got a lot of respect for the way D-Rod gets down on a day to day basis. It’s a fun fight and a fun fight is a fun fight. The guy that Chimaev just fought [Li] Jingliang, I’d like to fight him. I think he wanted to go out there and bang a little bit and he didn’t get that opportunity. I’ll give him that opportunity. Matt Brown didn’t get his fight, he needs somebody but he’s not top 15 — he’s just a legend. It’s like who wouldn’t want to go against an immortal? That would be amazing.
“You name them, you pick them, I’m with it. I don’t really care who it is. Anybody who wants it.”
Now just because Holland is turning his attention to welterweight in 2022 doesn’t mean he’s done fighting at 185 pounds.
If the UFC comes calling with an opportunity to jump in an interesting fight that just so happens to be at middleweight, Holland will never turn down a chance at a good time.
“I still don’t mind fighting the big boys,” Holland said. “I have to go make my claim at 170 and prove I can do it, so on and so forth, go on a five-fight win streak there but make no mistake about it, somebody catches a cramp in their vaginal muscles right before a fight, I’ll swoop in. I can still save the day.
“Big mouth is at 185 [pounds], Trailblazer’s at 170. Kevin Holland’s for the bedroom. I’ve got it all together.”