Brunson vs. Holland took place March 20 at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. Derek Brunson (22-7) and Kevin Holland (21-6) collided in a middleweight contest on the event’s main event, which aired live on ESPN+. Catch more video highlights below.
For more on Brunson vs. Holland, check out the live blog from MMA Fighting’s Steven Marrocco.
Holland extends his fingers immediately, possibly looking to touch gloves, but Brunson doesn’t bite. Brunson lands a huge punch on a slipped kick from Holland, and he settles into full guard. Pretty much the worst-case scenario at the moment for Holland, who secures a body triangle from the bottom. Brunson goes to work up top, and the damage starts to mount. Holland tries to hike his legs for a submission setup, and Brunson lands some big elbows and punches from up top. Three minutes left, and Brunson still holding position, trying to restrict breathing. Holland, naturally, starts talking. His attempt to scoot away is instantly stopped, and Brunson goes back to ground and pound. More talk, of course, and Holland tries to roll with the worst shots and cover up when he can’t. A nice left from Brunson, but he hasn’t shut up Holland, who’s slapping his opponent’s head as time runs out. Brunson gives enough space as he goes for big shots, and Holland rolls to his feet. He misses the chance to strike back, but tries in vain to touch gloves.
MMA Fighting scores the round 10-9 Brunson.
Holland is entertaining a cageside Khabib Nurmagomedov before the escond round starts. He opens up with some strikes at distance and lands a glancing shot. Brunson clowns back at him, and Holland tells Khabib to tell him when the shots are coming. He doesn’t, and the clinch comes instead. Brunson knees the body, but doesn’t convert, and Holland gets space. Holland lands a right hand that rocks Brunson, then another, and all of a sudden, Brunson is on wobbly legs, trying desperately to elevate a leg and take down Holland. He can’t get it initially, but he eventually gets the body lock and gets the fight down, quickly advancing to mount. Holland scrambles out of danger and gets off an upkick, but Brunson moves to half-guard and sets up for an arm triangle. As Brunson moves to free his leg to finish the choke, and Holland can’t scramble free. The position is in, and Brunson is squeezing, but Holland is still there, hanging on. There’s 90 seconds left, and Brunson adjusts to finish. Holland explodes and rolls free, and they’re back to standing. A wild punch sets up Brunson for a big takedown, and with one minute left, he’s in position to close the round strong. There’s not too much happening, though, and the round ends with Holland kicking off his opponent.
MMA Fighting scores the frame 10-9 for Holland, and it’s even at 19-19.
Holland goes with the straight right as Brunson kicks. Brunson more tentative, and he takes a right hand en route to another takedown. Holland tries to secure the armbar, but he doesn’t have the fulcrum necessary. Brunson stands overhead, but Holland doesn’t explode and accepts full guard. Brunson is working just enough to keep the position, but Holland is covering up well and firing back with elbows from the bottom. Brunson appears to have lost a little steam and might be recharging. Dean warns for action. There’s very little steam on Brunson’s shots. Holland is still peppering him with slaps and elbows. Brunson back to work with elbows and punches. Holland tries to cage walk, and Brunson’s punches force him to cover up. Round ends with Holland on bottom.
MMA Fighting scores the round 10-9 for Brunson, who’s up 29-28.
Brunson looks tired, and Holland looks happy as ever before the round kicks off. A slower start to this one, and Holland is looking to intercept Brunson coming in. Again, he connects with a heavy combination, prompting Brunson to duck under and clinch. The same thing happens again, and Brunson this time lands shots up the middle before securing the clinch and getting the takedown. Holland manages to get to his feet, and Brunson trips him back to the ground. Three minutes left, and Brunson has the advantage in position. If Holland can’t buck him, Brunson will end the frame with ground and pound, as he’s done every round so far. Holland tries another cage walk, but elbows in his face make that tough. Brunson is doing enough to keep the position and score points, and he’s running away with the round. Holland tries again to scramble, and again, the elbow keeps him honest. Not much talking. Another armbar attempt, and Holland rolls to his feet. He doesn’t make it far before Brunson smothers him against the fence. Slaps don’t do much to deter Brunson, who has double underhooks. Dean warns for action. Holland tries one last time to scoot away, and Brunson won’t let him go.
MMA Fighting scores the frame 10-9 for Brunson, who’s up 39-37.
Holland tries a front kick to the face, and Brunson goes low with his kicks. Both men are visibly tired. Brunson sits down with a nice left hand, and Holland closes to get his own. Hooks on the inside miss, and Brunson uses them to clinch up. He’s cut. A pummel fest as both men jockey for position, and Holland pulls off an inside trip. Instantly, he celebrates as Brunson assumes guard. He’s got three minutes left to do something spectacular, because he’s definitely down on scorecards. Does he have the gas to make something happen. He tenderizes Brunson’s flanks before standing up and trying to knock Brunson out Rampage-Arona style. That doesn’t produce quite the effect, and Holland goes back to ground and pound. Dean warns for action, and he stands up and fires a few shots. Holland gets space and they have one last standoff before Brunson closes the distance and gets yet another takedown. The fight is ending here. One minute left, and Brunson doing what he needs to do to keep the position. Not much steam on his punches, but it’s enough. A cage walk brings a “nope” from Brunson. Brunson out of nowhere stands up, and Holland walks away, his back turned. Finally, he faces Brunson, who rattles off a head kick. Another awkward skirmish, and this one comes to an end.
MMA Fighting scores the round 10-9 for Brunson, who takes the 49-46 decision.
Derek Brunson def. Kevin Holland via unanimous decision (49-45, 49-46, 49-46)