Kevin Holland (aka “Trailblazer”), was born on November 5th, 1992, in Riverside, California and raised in Rancho Cucamonga, and Ontario.
The 28 year-old, bringing ample ‘trash-talk’, and a fight-changing right hand to the octagon, is one to watch right now.
In an already remarkable UFC career, Holland entered as a last minute replacement and has now become a regular main event star.
He started training Kung Fu as a kid, and this martial art remains the base of his fight prep ritual. Holland is still referred to as a ‘kung-fu’ fighter by announcers in which he holds a 2nd degree black belt. He considers this to be his core in martial arts and it remains completely integral to his prefight warm ups.
Living in Texas, Holland started training MMA at 16, being inspired by the likes of Georges St-Pierre. He fought in Bellator and LFA before Dana White’s Contender Series. Initially in the eyes of Dana White, Holland’s trash talk worked against him, with Holland continuing to talk smack rather than finishing his opponent.
Holland was initially going to be passed over for a UFC opportunity, but then Thiago Santos, an important contender, lost his opponent late notice.
No one wanted to fight this dangerous prospect, who went on to fight Jon Jones for the light heavyweight title, losing a split decision. But Holland stepped up at the last minute and went the distance, instantly winning fans.
Since then, constantly jawing at his opponents and stepping in on late notice has earned Holland the interest and respect of the entire MMA community.
In 2020, Holland had a breakout year, while the world was shut down with COVID-19, he went to work, winning 5 fights that year and equalling a UFC record.
Dangerous standing, and on the ground, Holland is already a fan favorite, and his unique personality guarantees entertainment.
Yet behind all the talk is a skill set and an ability to endure through tough fights that will inevitably carry Holland a long way. His future in the UFC may well prove even more exciting than it has been so far.
Okay, so now you’ve got the backstory on the no.14- ranked middleweight “Trailblazer” / “Big Mouth”, let’s break down Kevin Holland’s Top 5 MMA Finishes! (in descending order)
5. Vs. John Phillips – UFC FN 141 (Nov. 24, 2018)
John Phillips had a decade’s worth of MMA experience on Holland and had never gone to a decision. This fight was guaranteed to be riveting!
In round 1 Holland opens proceedings, content to stay on the outside and poke with lead leg sidekicks.
At 3:30, Holland goes straight up the middle with a snapping front kick to the head. The right hand that follows gets Phillips backing up, and a groin strike from Holland sees a break in the action.
Afterwards, Phillips connects with a right hand that off-balances Holland, whilst a jumping knee from Holland in the final seconds, drops Phillips.
Early in round 2, Holland is dropped by a right while moving in, and Phillips waves him back up as he presses forward. Holland resumes working the body when Phillips’ output slows.
Early in round 3, Holland gets a reactive takedown as Phillips comes in swinging. Holland gets to a body lock as Phillips stands and gets another takedown.
Holland uses wrist control to work to full back mount and gets the forearm under the chin, yet Phillips twists out and gets back to standing.
Holland immediately gets another takedown, moving straight from side control to mount. Phillips defends but Holland keeps outworking him, and getting the fight back down, he has the back again.
This time he goes for a rear-naked short choke and Phillips taps at 4:05 of round 3.
4. Vs. Anthony Hernandez – UFC on ESPN 8 (May 16, 2020)
Hernandez was coming off a submission win, and had lost only once.
In round 1, Holland attacks first, landing a big one-two. Hernandez looks to get inside but push kicks to the stomach keep him on the outside.
Hernandez bites the hook of Holland’s every early feint. Then Hernandez ducks under a left hook to get in close but Holland then lands a hard, short right hook.
As they clinch, Holland lands a knee to Hernandez’s gut which buckles him. Covering up on all fours, Hernandez doesn’t respond as Holland rains down strikes.
The referee jumps in to call the fight by TKO for Holland at 0:39 of round 1.
3. Vs. Charlie Ontiveros – UFC FN 181 (Oct. 31, 2020)
Ontiveros was in a dangerous vein of form, having won his previous two fights via round 1 KO’s, and Holland had last fought only a month earlier.
In round 1, Ontiveros opens with a sharp axe kick that Holland barely evades. Holland then feints and closes in with a leg kick then a right hand. Slamming Ontiveros down, Holland moves to side control.
Ontiveros is able to twist back up to his knees and stands but Holland maintains his body lock and slams him back down, with his weight coming down on the head of Ontiveros in the process.
The referee is unsure, but he sees the hand of Ontiveros go limp and there is a verbal submission which stops the fight at 2:39 of round 1.
This was a TKO, submission to slam for Holland earning him a Performance of the Night bonus.
2. Vs. Joaquin Buckley – UFC FN 174 (Aug. 8, 2020)
Buckley was coming off a knockout win only a week earlier.
In round 1, Buckley gets a body lock on Holland as they open but Holland muscles him down.
Back on the feet, a right hand from Buckley temporarily sits Holland down.
Buckley throws hard, but Holland’s connections are making more of an impact, and he lands a hard elbow at 3:30 as they clinch. They separate temporarily after a low blow from Buckley.
At 1:20, Holland stops circling to land a stunning straight right that puts Buckley down.
Buckley grabs a single leg to evade ground and pound and work back up. Holland rushes Buckley once more as the round ends and knocks out his mouthpiece.
In round 2, Buckley continues to throw hard, crunching shots on Holland. Yet Holland keeps his rhythm and when he connects, Buckley has to reset.
At 2:30, a right hand from Holland knocks out Buckley’s mouthpiece, and by now, Buckley is beginning to slow whilst Holland starts digging more push kicks in to the body.
In round 3, Buckley seems to have recovered and comes out swinging hard again.
Interestingly, Holland keeps talking to him and looks to connect with the right hand as Buckley comes in closer. A right hand then does connect but Buckley seems unfazed by it.
As Buckley shifts to the side, Holland catches him with a perfect straight right as the mouthpiece goes flying again, and Buckley crashes to the floor.
Holland moves in, but the referee has seen enough at this point at 0:32 of round 3.
The fight is called a TKO for Holland who also won the Performance of the Night bonus.
1. Vs. Ronaldo Souza – UFC 256 (Dec. 12, 2020)
Ronaldo “Jacaré” Souza is one of the most decorated BJJ black belts to ever compete in MMA and was also the Strikeforce Middleweight Champion. This was Holland’s fifth fight in 2020.
In round 1, Ronaldo catches a kick early on to get a takedown. Holland gets his leg free from the grip then throws it over for a triangle and throws elbows from the guard.
Ronaldo gets past the back but Holland works back up to standing. Ronaldo maintains contact and after several attempts gets the fight back to the mat.
From his back Holland keeps talking which brings a laugh from Ronaldo. Holland lands from the bottom and Ronaldo covers up.
Holland lands again, stunning Ronaldo. Holland quickly works his legs free and stands, raining down shots. Several punches land as Ronaldo falls backwards against the fence, unable to defend himself.
The referee stops the fight at 1:45 of round 1, declaring the KO for Holland.
With this win, Holland won the Performance of the Night bonus again and capped off a remarkable 2020.
He also tied the UFC record for most wins in a calendar year, securing his status as the breakout star of 2020.