Kevin Holland prides himself on being one of the most active fighters on the UFC roster, but when that is no longer possible is the day he’ll hang up his gloves for good.
The 29-year-old veteran is one of only three fighters in UFC history — alongside Roger Huerta, and Neil Magny — to win five fights in a calendar year after he accomplished that feat back in 2020. Since that time, Holland fought three times in 2021 and he’s only gotten two bouts under his belt thus far in 2022, with his third set to take place at UFC 279 on Saturday.
While a rigorous schedule can sometimes be detrimental to the body and the mind, Holland admits that’s the only way he truly thrives, which is why he’s always hoping to get back to the grind sooner rather than later.
“This will only be the third fight [this year] — I have to fight to fight at least four to five times a year,” Holland told The Fighter vs. The Writer prior to UFC 279’s flurry of card changes. “See people think that [fighting] five times a year was crazy because it happened on the UFC scale but I was doing that way before I got in the UFC. I’ll always fight as many times as I can in a year. Whether it’s jiu-jitsu matches, super matches, MMA fights, Muay Thai fights, whatever the case may be, I do it all because it’s not about clout. It’s not about the check — I do love the check. It’s about my mental and my spiritual well-being.
“I feel better as a human being, I feel better as a parent, I feel better as the person that I need to be, I feel I’m a better Kevin when I fight four to five times a year, possibly seven.”
According to Holland, his preference to stay more active also comes down to the harsh reality that he won’t be able to fight at this level forever.
Now that might sound a little crazy for a fighter still two months away from celebrating his 30th birthday but Holland understands better than most that father time is the one opponent nobody can defeat.
“If I can’t fight four to five times a year, just retire me and I’m being honest,” Holland said. “If I can’t fight four to five times a year, retire me, I don’t need to fight anymore.
“I’d like to stay active until I’m 36 years old but if I can’t do it, physically or the job doesn’t want to allow me to do it, you might as well give me my retirement papers and tell me to hang it up. Cause mentally if I’m a warrior, I need those battles. Simple as that.”
Following that five-fight undefeated streak during a single year, Holland then suffered through the roughest patch in his UFC career with two straight losses and a no contest after an accidental clash of heads in his bout against Kyle Daukaus ended the contest.
After those setbacks, Holland made the decision to move down to welterweight where he quickly picked up a knockout win over Alex Oliveira and then submitted Tim Means back in June. He’ll look for three in a row with his upcoming fight against Khamzat Chimaev in the UFC 279 co-main event.
Putting a number next to your name in the UFC usually means facing stiffer competition but don’t expect Holland to start slowing down or passing on opportunities just because he’ll be risking his spot in the division.
The way Holland sees it, he’s only got so much time to accomplish what he wants in this sport and he’ll never even get the chance to reach those goals if he’s not ready to answer when the UFC calls.
“My mind hasn’t changed thinking about going up the rankings,” Holland said. “My mind has changed thinking about going up in age. I’m getting older. If there’s some things that I want to accomplish, the window is starting to get a little bit smaller so I need to accomplish those things.
“Any time they call me, I like to be ready. If I had a truck driving business, I’d always have to be ready for the calls, right? If I had a towing business, I’d always have to be ready for the call. I am the towing company. I am the truck driving business. I’m the one that’s going to haul this s*** wherever it’s got to go, no matter what it is.”