Talk to Kevin Holland for any length of time and the conclusion is obvious: “The Trailblazer” is one of a kind.
“I try,” laughs the middleweight prospect, who was hoping to be celebrating a return to the win column last Saturday in London, only to see the Coronavirus pandemic scrap his bout with Jack Marshman and the entire card. It was a disappointment for all involved, but Holland is making the best of the situation.
“It's not that bad,” he said. “It's one of those things where I really, really wanted to fight and I would have loved to have been fighting, but it's out of my control, so there's nothing I can do about it now.”
Without a fight, Holland planned on a trip to see his son in Las Vegas, then a visit to California to see the rest of his family. How was Holland going to make it out west?
By car, of course.
“I'd knock it out straight,” Holland said of the 17-hour drive to Vegas. “I do it all the time, about four or five times a year. No problem.”
“It's the only way to live.”
See, I told you he was one of a kind. Unfortunately, in the days from last week to this week, that trip got scrapped for the moment, leaving Holland to say he was going to “hop on my motorcycle, drive around DFW two or three times and then come back.”
In other words, the 27-year-old Holland was going to make do with what was in front of him. So if he couldn’t fight last weekend, so be it. If he couldn’t drive out west, same thing. It’s an attitude he says he learned from his background in traditional martial arts.
“That was always the thing - don't stress about things you can't control,” he said. “As much as I want to be upset, we'll just wait and take that energy into the next fight and we'll destroy the next guy.”
We call that seeing the glass as half-full, not half-empty.
“I don't like the idea of thinking about it being empty. Empty is a negative thought, full is a positive thought.”
As much as I want to be upset, we'll just wait and take that energy into the next fight and we'll destroy the next guy.
And Holland is positive that things will swing in his direction soon enough, and that means getting a chance to fight and get back in the win column following an October loss to Brendan Allen. So after a brief taper, he’s getting back to work and staying ready.
“We can't go inside the gym, can't really do too many things, but I've been doing martial arts for a long time, so it's not like you're just gonna lose it all in two, three weeks,” he said. “I'll run, I'll still shadowbox and I haven't done as many forms as I used to do back in the day when I first started doing martial arts, so I think I'll just go back to doing some forms - practice martial arts forms, work on the kung fu, do things that got me there and just take my time. And I'll be playing the UFC video game a lot, so I'll be getting my rounds in one way or another.”
Don’t think he’s kidding about firing up his PlayStation 4 up, either.
“Don't forget to tell all those UFC guys - hop on the UFC video game and anybody at 185, 170 or 205 who wants the smoke, I'll beat them up on the UFC video game while we're in quarantine. Let's do it.”
He laughs, and his personality reminds you why so many people saw UFC stardom for him after his appearance on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2018. Holland didn’t get a contract that night, but less than two months later he was in the Octagon, going three rounds with Thiago Santos at UFC 227. Following that bout, Holland won three of his next four, and while the loss to fellow 185-pound prospect Allen stopped his rise momentarily, no one doubts his ability to bounce back and continue to rise up the ranks.
Don’t tell Holland that, though, as he feels like he’s not nearly where he needs to be nearly two years after his Contender Series fight.
“Man, I've been wasting time,” he said. “What have I been doing? That's horrible. Two years and I'm nowhere near where I want to be. Hopefully this COVID-19 thing can get over and we can get back out there and get to scrap so I can get back on track.”
Kevin, you are 3-2 in the big show, though.
“You gotta be your own worst critic,” he insists. “You gotta judge yourself harder than anybody else will. I don't want to lose. I want to win, win, win, win, win, no matter what. And if I stay with that hungry mentality, I'll be there a lot longer than a lot of these other guys.”
He’s right, and while he could be a little less hard on himself, his attitude has him facing in the right direction, and he hopes that direction leads him to a busy rest of the year. So don’t suggest that this little break is a good thing in order to get recharged.
“The body is a very significant thing, but my mind controls my body and my mind does not need a break,” Holland said. “My mind needs to go a little harder and do a little bit more. It would have been nice to fight in London, it would be nice to back door and get on May 2nd in Oklahoma City and then it would have been nice to back door that and be ready to go again in July, and then chill out until closer to Christmas. I'm a five-fight a year type of guy. To me, four fights should be the minimum, five fights should be the number. Three fights, I feel like there's so many months I just didn't do what I felt like I could have been doing or should have been doing.”
Sounds like the schedule a young man of 27 would love to have. Will he still feel that way in ten years?
“In ten years, I hope I'm not fighting anymore,” he said, hoping that 34 is the magic number when he hangs up the gloves. “But until then I want to fight as many times as I can. Before it's over and done with, I would like to say I had 50-60 fights. That would be nice.”
That’s a lot of interviews.
“I love interviews,” he laughs.
Kevin Holland, one of a kind. And he’s just getting warmed up.
“They tell me to slow down, but I'm not in a position to slow down,” he said. “I can always be better and I can always do more.”
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