UPDATE: This co-main event fight of Gregor Gillespie vs. Brad Ridell mentioned below has been officially called off due to COVID-19 protocols and will be replaced by Max Griffin vs. Kenan Song. The UFC plans to rebook this bout soon, but a new date has yet to be determined, according to MMAFighting.com.
UFC Fight Night: Brunson v. Holland goes down this Saturday night, live from Las Vegas, Nevada, at the UFC Apex, and 2020’s fighter of the year, Kevin Holland, looks to keep his torrid run going when he takes on the refocused and streaking veteran Derek Brunson in a middleweight bout. Before we dive into this week's bets/fight breakdowns, let's take a minute to recap last week's Edwards vs. Muhammad card:
Last Week's Recap - UFC Fight Night: Leon Edwards v. Belal Muhammad:
All Fight Picks: 6-5
Official Plays: 1-2
“So long as Cirkunov avoids Spann’s power on the feet, I believe he will utilize his grappling to control Spann, get him to the ground, and submit him.” Well…Misha Cirkunov (-135) couldn’t avoid Ryan Spann’s (+115) power on the feet, as he succumbed to strikes in the first round. Angela Hill (-380) got us in to the win column with a dominant decision victory over Ashley Yoder (+315), and it was the history of these two fighters going to decisions that was the key to cashing this one. Gloria de Paula (-185) lost a close decision to Jinh Yu Frey (+160), as de Paula was tied 1-1 going into the third round and seemed like she was on her way to a decision victory. Instead she was taken down, could not get up, and lost the third and final round:
Derek Brunson (+145) v. Kevin Holland (-165)
I love the matchmaking here, as Derek Brunson has been a new man ever since he changed camps. He's a more disciplined and calculated fighter too, which has manifested itself into a three fight win streak. Kevin Holland, on the other side, is coming off a spectacular 2020 where he won all five of his fights and many of them in highlight reel fashion. This should be a fun scrap. Brunson is a well-rounded fighter who likes to utilize his striking and wrestling to win fights. On the feet, he’s got legit power in his hands and legs.
Brunson's wrestling is also often used to score points and catch his breath, and he doesn’t really commit to his wrestling as much as you’d expect or want him to if you’re backing him. He’s solid defensively on the feet and rolls with punches, using his movements to get out of danger in exchanges. A big negative, however, is that he often keeps his chin in the air on striking entries, which leaves him susceptible to knockouts. The chin also stays high when Brunson is backing up and trying to avoid strikes.
Holland is a striker who uses his length well to pick his opponent apart from the outside. He has legit one-punch power, particularly with his straight right and right cross. You wouldn’t know it from his frame, but the power is real. Where he does lack, however, is in the clinch and on the ground. Holland can be controlled against the fence at times, and he is susceptible to being taken down and controlled, in particular off of his back. But even with those deficiencies he’s still dangerous in those compromising positions, as we saw in his last fight vs. Souza. Holland is young and continues to improve each time out.
For me the play is Holland, an uber-confident and skilled fighter who continues to get better each time he enters the cage. His legit power I believe will be the difference in this fight, as Brunson keeps his chin in the air whether he’s on the offensive or defensive end of striking exchanges. Brunson’s wrestling could very well nullify Holland’s offense if he fully commits to it, but I just haven’t seen him fully commit to it for three or five straight rounds. Holland has also shown that he's still able to win fights even when he is being taken down, particularly over his last two fights. Because of this I'll take Holland for 1.75 units.
*UPDATE: This co-main event fight below has been officially called off due to COVID-19 protocols, and it will be replaced by Max Griffin vs. Kenan Song. The UFC plans to rebook this bout for the coming weeks, but no new date has been determined yet. For more information, please check out MMAFighting.com.
*Gregor Gillespie (-235) v. Brad Riddell (+195)
Gregor Gillespie is a relentless grappler looking to bounce back after a vicious knockout loss more than a year ago. Brad Riddell, on the other hand, is looking to remain undefeated in the UFC’s toughest division.
Riddell is a good striker on the feet with good power. He throws hard leg kicks and is good at countering his opponent with check hooks. Defensively he is a bit hittable and will often get in to fire fights where he is willing to take a shot to land a shot. He also does a decent job of stopping takedowns, but if he is taken down, he does not accept positions. He's always scrambling and looking to get back to his feet where he is at his best. Gillespie is a pressure fighter who is relentless with his takedowns. He has a very strong grip on his body locks, which he uses to control his opponent and begin the process of getting them to the ground. In open space, he’s also good at getting single-leg take downs. When the fight hits the ground, Gillespie is strong on top and can control his opponents there, often for several minutes at a time.
I like Gillespie here 2.5 units. While he’s tough enough to exchange with Riddell on the feet when the fight is contested there, I believe it's his relentless wrestling that will be the difference. Gillespie will not let Riddell breathe for three rounds and will continuously threaten Riddell with takedowns. Once the fight hits the mat, he will be able to control him, advance positions, and damage him for the majority of the bout.
All Picks for UFC Fight Night: Brunson v. Holland