Derek Brunson and Kevin Holland meet in an exciting clash that will be pivotal for that middleweight division. Here is my main event breakdown from a betting perspective.
Coming from a background in traditional martial arts, Kevin Holland is a fantastic kickboxer with an extensive vocabulary of strikes in his arsenal. As the taller, longer fighter, I expect Holland to try to maintain distance and unload with a variety of kicks and long straight punches down the pipe.
Unlike some competitors who are tall for their divisions, Holland is not out of his depth at fighting on the inside and is certainly capable of landing something nasty in order to end the fight during a pocket exchange.
Despite possessing a black belt in BJJ, Holland is not a great grappler and will often go for low percentage submissions instead of resolutely defending takedowns and trying to turn every fight into a kickboxing match at distance.
His fight IQ is truly terrible and it makes him a nightmare to bet on (especially at favorite odds).
As an undersized middleweight, Holland’s takedown defense is not the best and he has a tendency to slow down late in fights – which could be detrimental in this five round main event slot.
While Derek Brunson is getting a bit long in the tooth at 37-years-of-age, he’s produced some of the most mature performances of his career in recent fights. I guess you can credit the high level coaching staff over at Sanford MMA for that.
Fighting from the southpaw stance, Brunson used to be known for recklessly charging in with his chin high and trying to land the kill shot with his power left hand – but he’s looked a lot more calculated recently.
In this fight, the objective will be to lean on his wrestling base and secure top position by any means necessary.
Brunson is outclassed at range, but he fights well in the clinch and is good at executing trip takedowns.
He may not be able to finish Holland (who is tough as nails), but I think he can rinse and repeat with takedowns and hopefully wear on his adversary in order to tire him out as the fight progresses.
Both fighters have obvious paths to victory, and if Holland wins then we’re likely going to see a highlight reel finish.
That said, just because a win condition is emphatic doesn’t mean that it’s more probable.
If Brunson fights to his strengths and can enter the clinch without getting his brain re-arranged, I think he has a great chance of hitting takedowns and dominating on top.
With everything considered, I’d cap this fight as a pick ‘em with a slight lean towards Derek Brunson.
Pick: Derek Brunson +150