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Kevin Holland reacts to Israel Adesanya’s UFC 259 loss, Paulo Costa saying he drank too much wine prior to title fight

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Kevin Holland was impressed with Jan Blachowicz’s game plan in his victory over middleweight champion Israel Adesanya. In regards to how the result effects him, Holland is indifferent about the situation.

Of course, Holland has his own main event to prepare for this Saturday when he faces Derek Brunson at UFC Vegas 22. After an impressive 2020 campaign in which he went 5-0, Holland will look to take another step up the 185-pound ladder in his first headline slot.

When it comes to Adesanya’s attempt to become two-division champion, he applauds the gusto, but believes Blachowicz got the best of the middleweight titleholder in all facets of the fight.

“People trying to act like he didn’t do good, he did good,” Holland told MMA Fighting while appearing on What the Heck. “People felt like they saw something because he got outwrestled, I felt like the man got outstruck. Overall, he dared to be great and props to him. He went out there, took a tough fight and did better than most guys would do.

“It’s not like going from 145 to 155, or from 135 to 145, 185 to 205 is a pretty big jump. He went out there, he tried it, he said he didn’t put on weight. I don’t believe that. If you look at the Israel Adesanya that first got to the UFC to the Israel Adesanya who fought Paulo Costa, he’s been putting on weight. Maybe he didn’t put on too much more for the Jan fight. Was that the downfall? No. I don’t feel like he was normal Izzy that night, and at the same time Jan fought a really, really good fight.

“Just know that if you fight Izzy, you have to fight a really, really good fight. You have to go out there and play it as smart as you can because the guy is pretty good.”

When asked if the result was more favorable for Holland—notably if it opened up the path towards a title shot in a quicker timeframe—”Trailblazer” sees more value in activity that fighting for the middleweight title. If it were the choice to get the next title shot, or fight five or six times in 2021, the Travis Lutter BJJ standout seems to be favoring the latter.

“I keep teasing the idea that I’m going to 170 pounds and I’m about to go fight Usman for the belt,” Holland said. “I’m gonna go have fun elsewhere. Look, I’m not really stressing the belt. I’m not really stressing anything. If he had won, and he would’ve stayed up there, and they had made it where there was no belt, then I guess Kev gets to fight five times, maybe six times in one year. If not, he’s back here and everybody’s like, ‘Oh, I want to see you vs. Izzy,’ a good majority of the people. I’ll get past Brunson and more people will say it, get past Till or Gastelum, somebody like that, then more people will say it.

“Eventually, the time will come. I’m about the styles, I’m not really about the belt. A lot of people love the belt. I’m like, I got plenty of jewelry. I got a lot of gold. I got a nice belt buckle made from a nice company out here in Texas—some Texas boy type stuff. I got belts. I got a nice buckle and a lot of people don’t have that buckle. It’s one of a kind. If he would’ve won the title and stayed at 205, doing the double champ thing, as long as you do it as good as Amanda Nunes, no problem.

“And I think there needed to be a challenge [at 185]. I can see him not wanting to do a rematch, but now that he’s coming off of a loss I think it gets the division more so moving. I think he’s back hungry again. He’ll try and take on all comers to prove he can go back up there and try again. So all comers, I’m one of those comers when I come.”

Holland has teased a move to 170 for the last two years. In fact, the 28-year-old was scheduled to make his welterweight debut two-weeks after his first 2020 victory against Daniel Rodriguez before a shoulder injury changed his plans. He spent the rest of the year at 185 picking up a split decision win over Darren Stewart, and stoppages of Joaquin Buckley, Charlie Ontiveros, and Ronaldo Souza.

If it leads to fighting as often as possible, Holland is still keeping a move to 170 on the table.

“It’s not convincing me, it’s convincing my coaches that we can do the drop and still be strong,” Holland explained. “I don’t cut any weight for 185. I’m almost get chewed out because they feel like I’m not eating enough. I feel like I’m 100 percent, but it’s just not part of the job at 185. I eat what I want to eat, do what I want to do and as long as I’m training, it is what it is.

“For 170, I feel like it would be a lot more disciplined, and I’m ready to start being disciplined. I think I could probably be more disciplined at 185, be a bigger 85er, but ultimately, it’s whatever. I just want to fight as often as possible. So if they start playing the game at 185, maybe I can go over here, fight a bunch of times. come back up here, fight a bunch of times.”

With the middleweight division on full display over the next month, there’s a lot to be excited about if you’re a fan, or even a 185er in the UFC. In the main event of the UFC’s April 10 card, Darren Till will take on Marvin Vettori on ABC—a fight Holland definitely has his eye on. The following week, Robert Whittaker will face Kelvin Gastelum in the April 17 headliner, with Gastelum replacing Paulo Costa.

In Costa’s last appearance, he was dominated and stopped by Adesanya in the main event of UFC 253. Months later, Costa said that his performance could be attributed to drinking “too much wine” the night before the fight.

Holland was asked to give his take on Costa’s reasoning.

“Sh*t you can give me six shots of Howler Head and I’m still gonna go out there and bust your head,” Holland said. “I don’t really think it matters. I come from a kung fu place.

“I don’t know, man, those undefeated guys that have never tasted a loss before and they finally get a loss, they tend to cry a lot. Quit b*tching and get out there and do better next time. You lost, oh well, it is what it is. If you can’t handle losing after talking sh*t, don’t talk sh*t. It’s simple. I think he’s more butt hurt than anything that it went the way that it went. You were drunk off wine? Get the f*ck out of here! What man gets drunk off wine? You’re a full-grown man here and you’re getting drunk off wine. It’s a little iffy if you ask me.”