While Kevin Holland’s performance at UFC on ESPN 42 was exciting to witness, Michael Bisping feels he did not help himself in the long run.
On Saturday night at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida, Holland (23-9 MMA, 9-6 UFC) suffered his first loss since moving down to welterweight, losing via fourth-round technical knockout (TKO) via corner stoppage to Stephen Thompson (17-6-1 MMA, 12-6-1 UFC).
An apparent broken hand suffered by Holland in the first round changed the entire dynamic of the bout. He couldn’t throw as fast as he wanted to, and “Wonderboy” capitalized by piling on the damage and prolonging the fight until Holland and his crew decided round four was enough.
Holland had an opportunity to make it far more competitive by including grappling well before that time. But he flatly refused, instead choosing to stake his ground before every prospective grappling encounter. UFC legend Bisping, who was cageside calling the action along with Daniel Cormier and Jon Anik, thought that was a bad strategy.
“We see all the time, people say, ‘The first one to shoot is a coward,’” Bisping said.
“Then guess what? People shoot, because you know what, it’s allowed in the rules. It’s a mixed martial arts contest. This was one of the first times, and maybe the only time, I’ve actually seen somebody truly live up to that.
“Kevin Holland had top position, clearly, a couple of times (and) he was like, ‘No, no, no. We’re going to strike. That’s what we came here to do.’ I believe he will regret that decision going forward because that was his ego getting the better of him.”
Holland took great delight in giving the audience a night of excitement, and they got exactly what they wanted with another Fight of the Night from him. Thompson revealed post-fight the duo had a “unwritten” pact not to trade on the mat, which obviously worked out to his benefit.
Holland is currently 0-3 in main event fights for the UFC and has lost his last two. Those are red signs about where his ceiling may be in terms of career potential, and Bisping can’t see any big changes in performance until Holland opts to modify his strategy.
“This is not a popularity contest in terms of, ‘Oh, everyone thinks I’m a real badass guy,’” Bisping said. “No, you come here to win a fight. This is high stakes. Do you want to be a champion? Do you want to earn a lot of money? Do you want to be known as one of the best fighters in the world, or a guy who puts on a show and possibly gives away a victory? That was not high fight IQ.”