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Kevin Holland critical of UFC 272 performance; wants six bouts in 2022, at both 170 and 185 pounds

Kevin Holland, the No. 13 middleweight in the world in MMA Fighting’s Global Rankings, made his welterweight debut at UFC 272 this past weekend, taking on Alex Oliveira in a feature bout on the main card. It was a good night at the office for Holland, who secured a TKO stoppage just 38 seconds into Round 2 following a competitive opening round.

But Holland wasn’t very happy with the performance.

“C+. Rough first round, probably could have did a little better on the microphone. It was alright. Can always do better,” Holland said Monday on The MMA Hour.

“He did a really good job of moving around. I kept touching that leg though. Tax the leg, tax the leg, tax the leg. I couldn’t find him with the hands so I taxed the leg, and eventually I think those legs started to get a little heavy. Then bada-bing, bada-bang, I lined him up, so I can’t be mad at it.”

He certainly shouldn’t be. “Trailblazer” had gone 0-2 with 1 no-contest over his past three fights before Saturday, which prompted Holland to finally drop down to the welterweight division. But although he described the weight cut down to 170 pounds as “really easy”, Holland said Monday that he’s not done with the middleweight division just yet either.

“Everything is about timing,” Holland said. “I had fun at ‘85, still plan on having some more fun there, so I can’t complain. I have a pretty decent name at ‘85. I was ranked 14 going into this fight, at middleweight. ... You’ve got some of these guys ranked ahead of me at middleweight on some losing skids.

“If we’re just speaking here, just throwing out things, I feel like I could be ranked higher than those guys. And if we’re talking about 170, I would like to see where that goes. So no, [I don’t] wish that I did it sooner. I like where I’m sitting. I might be the only guy ranked at both weight classes, so it could be fun.”

Though bouncing between divisions could make building momentum towards a title run difficult, Holland says he’s not particularly interested in staying in one place. Instead, Holland is looking to recreate the success of his 2020 campaign — one that saw him go 5-0 in the UFC — by fighting as many times as possible, in either weight class.

“Shoot, if they’ve got something available next month at 185 pounds — because I don’t feel like going on a diet right this second — then I’ll do that, too,” Holland said.

“It would mess things up if I was shooting for something specifically. I’m just shooting to be an active guy. I’m just shooting to continue to grow and get experience and be a better fighter. So if I can fight five, six times this year, that’d be awesome. I like to fight a lot, so I can’t do every fight at 170 pounds if I’m gonna fight six times this year. There’s still some good fights at ‘85, so I’ll take whatever comes. I think an ‘85 fight sounds good right now if I want to go out and eat carne asada for the next few weeks.”

Since joining the UFC in 2018, Holland has remained one of the more active fighters in the sport, competing 14 times in the octagon, plus his bout on the Contender Series. And now with two divisions to find fights in, Holland is hoping he’ll be able to stay as busy as he likes.

“For me, that’s a normal thing,” Holland said. “When I first got to the UFC, I couldn’t fight that much because I wasn’t on that type of schedule with them, but I made it up with pro matches in jiu-jitsu and stuff like that. I like to fight a lot, I like to stay active.

“Realistically we could do two to three this year at 170 pounds. We already got one done so we could do two more if we need to, and then we could do two at ‘85 or three at ‘85, however they want to do it. We could do three and three if they want to.”