Kevin Holland is best known as a striker but he has no problem showing off his grappling pedigree from time to time.
At UFC 291, Holland displayed a quick twitch and dangerous striking arsenal early against Michael Chiesa but it was ultimately a D’arce choke that he wrapped up to get the win. After a dominant display on the feet, Holland saw an opening for the submission, which forced Chiesa to tap out at just 2:39 in the opening round.
Afterwards, Holland paid homage to his new wrestling coach and his overall maturity that allowed him to put Chiesa away in such impressive fashion.
“I just had to be a little more patient in here,” Holland said. “I’m grown, I’m mature.
“I’m going to be real with you guys. That knee didn’t land. When Mike feels he’s in danger, he does bad things. I took advantage of that. I’ll take whatever they give me next.”
The knee that Holland referenced came just before the submission as he pressed Chiesa against the cage while carefully defending any potential takedown attempts. Holland looked dramatically quicker than Chiesa during the exchanges on the feet, which led to the former Ultimate Fighter winner looking to drag the fight down to the floor.
Despite getting in deep on a takedown attempt, Holland was eventually able to shrug Chiesa off to reset with his striking where he was consistently landing at will.
With Chiesa stuck against the cage, Holland uncorked the knee that looked good but apparently didn’t connect clean. Ultimately it didn’t even matter.
Holland then made the quick adjustment to go for the D’arce choke and Chiesa just had no answer to the submission as he was forced to tap. Following the loss, Chiesa quickly removed his gloves, although he didn’t stick around to make any announcements regarding his future in the UFC.
After dropping back-to-back fights to Khamzat Chimaev and Stephen Thompson, Holland has now bounced back with two straight finishes over Chiesa and Santiago Ponzinibbio as he continues to rise up the ranks at welterweight.