Brunson versus Holland Recap:
No. 4 Derek Brunson (22-7) and No. 10 Kevin Holland (21-6) did battle Saturday in the UFC Apex. The matchup boasted a top-10 gatekeeper veteran in Brunson and an up-and-comer in the verbose Holland. Brunson dominated Holland en route to a unanimous decision — snuffing the shine to a rising middleweight star.
Holland entered the bout on a five-fight win streak, all victories coming in the span of eight months last year. Most recently, Holland scored a stunning TKO of veteran Jacare Souza (26-9) from Holland’s back.
Brunson, who has done battle with the middleweight division’s most formidable, entered with a recent victory of prospect No. 12 Edmen Shahbazyan (11-1). As the betting favorite, the attention of the fight was on the younger and more excitable Holland, but the fight turned out to be all Brunson.
Holland had little answer for Brunson’s six takedowns and was controlled for nearly 17 minutes on the ground. Despite arguably losing all five rounds, Holland continued to talk smack in the cage, living up to his moniker: “Big Mouth.”
This result is an extreme detriment to the momentum Holland built in his last five bouts. Holland was named the third-best fighter of 2020 by the UFC for his record-tying five wins in a year. Holland’s continued talk through his five-round beatdown further destroyed any momentum he may have gained.
Brunson should be looking at one last run at the top with this victory, and he likely deserves a top-six opponent in the division as opposed to yet again serving as a litmus test for middleweight prospects.
UFC 260 Preview:
The Biggest. Baddest. Rematch. Heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic (20-3) returns to the Octagon to defend his belt for the fifth time against Cameroonian power-puncher, No. 1 Francis Ngannou (15-3).
This matchup is the second time these two men have met in the Octagon when Miocic snuffed the rising Ngannou in a dominant, unanimous decision in 2018. Ngannou has worked his way back up through the HW division and believes his resharpened tools are enough for Miocic.
Miocic enters after a rubber match with Daniel Cormier (22-3). In a fight for the title of “Heavyweight GOAT,” Miocic bullied DC to a unanimous decision — defending his belt and closing the chapter on the Miocic-Cormier rivalry and retiring DC.
Ngannou is coming off four straight first-round knockouts. Curtis Blaydes, Cain Velasquez, Junior Dos Santos and Jairzinho Rozenstruik have all received a violent nap at the hands of “The Predator.” Ngannou, who has made his name on brutal knockouts, is looking to showcase a renewed skillset, with improved conditioning and wrestling following his abysmal showing against Miocic last time out.
How Miocic can win: Stipe is the greatest heavyweight to grace the Octagon, and his well-rounded striking and wrestling have proved formidable for nearly every opponent who has tried to take his belt. Miocic neutralized the scary power of Ngannou the first time out, and exploited a huge hole in The Predator’s game: cardio. After outlasting the first round power shots, Miocic methodically took him down and controlled him on the ground, tiring out the heavy and lethargic-looking Ngannou.
Stipe’s path is simple: Survive the first round and take the fight to the ground. Tire Ngannou out and cruise to another unanimous decision. Stipe’s conditioning is much better than that of his younger adversary, and he can once again neutralize the daunting figure that is Ngannou.
How Ngannou can win: The obvious answer here is land that big shot. Ngannou’s power is unmatched, and should Francis land, he could likely put a silverback to sleep. His right hook is equivalent to 96 horsepower, and a clean shot hits as hard as a Ford Escort driving at its top speed. If Francis lands, it’ll be over and fast.
After the embarrassing beating Ngannou took in 2018, his team should not rely on this plan outside of the first two minutes of the first round. Last time they fought, Ngannou tired out very quickly and was an easy mountain to climb for Stipe. However, this fight is a huge opportunity for him. If Ngannou could beat Stipe outside of round one, it would be a major win for his career and legacy. Unfortunately, we have not seen a post-UFC 220 Ngannou victory occur past the first round, so any improvement to his questionable cardio remains to be seen.
Charles’ Prediction: Ngannou via R2 KO/TKO
Peter’s Prediction: Ngannou via R1 KO/TKO
Other fights to watch: The other title fight this card was going to boast — champion Alexander Volkanovski (22-1) versus No. 2 Brian Ortega (15-1) — was scratched when Volk went down due to COVID-19 protocols. That limits the sheer awesome factor of this card to just the heavyweights. That being said, there are some great fights to watch elsewhere.
William Knight (9-1) versus Alonzo Menifield (9-2) should be a brawl with them both at 205 pounds. Knight is a Dana White’s Contender Series alum who has series power in his hands. A knockout of Cody Brundage (6-1) and a unanimous decision over Aleksa Camur (6-1) have aided in him in his pursuit of the top.
Menifield has four fights in the UFC with a win over Paul Craig (14-4-1). Menifield will look to take advantage of the newcomer, as he has dropped two straight fights against Devin Clark (12-5) and Ovince Saint Preux (25-15). This fight will be a banger.
As always, tune into @TheRedCornerDFP for live fight results and UFC 260 full card predictions.