Kevin Holland and Alex Oliveira will go head-to-head at this weekend’s UFC 272 PPV event in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Holland, 29, continues to grow as a fan favorite for his energetic and talkative style. He is 8-4-1 in the UFC and has fought an unheard-of eight times since May of 2020. Oliveira, 34, has been fighting in the UFC since 2015. In that time, he has amassed a 11-9 record.
Holland opened around a -250 favorite but has quickly grown. I expect the line to widen a bit more before Saturday night.
- Holland: -300
- Oliveira: +240
Holland is moving back down to welterweight for the first time since his LFA fight in 2017. Normally, a fighter moving down a weight class would be a red flag; but, in Holland’s case, it was a long time coming. As a middleweight, Holland would regularly weigh in 1-3 pounds under the 185 limit. More notably, his famous achilles heel, wrestling, was made even more challenging being the smaller fighter. At welterweight, Holland will have the size and strength advantage. That, coupled with his legitimate dedication to improving his wrestling, gives me confidence he’ll be able to keep the fight standing. If he can keep fights standing, Holland is a dangerous man in the octagon. He has elite striking, using his long limbs to keep opponents at bay and land cracking shots on the end of his strikes. His hands are incredibly powerful, even if his strikes look effortless. Holland mixes in kicks well, mainly long range ones designed to dictate range and force his opponent to look for an outside shot. Once they’re worried about a head kick coming from the outside, Holland fires a piston of a right hand down the middle and often gets the knockout.
Oliveira is a fighter who wants a wild fight. He can be reckless at times; but, his wild style has also resulted in performance bonus wins. On the feet, Oliveira will throw all of his limbs at his opponent from a wide variety of angles. His goal is to pressure forward and keep striking until he drops his opponent or gets them against the cage. Once against the cage, Oliveira is strong in the clinch and can land solid knees to the body. Then, once he exits, back at range, he’ll go back to throwing a variety of strikes from distance. He has two gaps in his game that have cost him in the past- striking and submission defense. He can be countered heavily when pressuring forward and get in bad positions once on the mat. “Cowboy’s” chin has saved him a few times, but, as he’s aging, he’s bee wobbled more frequently.
I’ve been really impressed by Holland’s striking for a while, specifically his counter shots when backing up. I see Oliveira pressing forward as he normally does and Holland catching him with a heavy counter. Holland might knock him out on the feet, or go to the ground to finish the job. I like Holland by finish but a sprinkle on him by submission is interesting too. He might look to showcase his growth after dropping Oliveira.
Prediction: Holland inside the distance
Michael Pounders is a high school English Teacher, a boxer himself, and is a fan who loves, gambles on, and nerds out about all things MMA.