Kevin Holland was a winner on Dana White’s Contender Series earlier this year, but he didn’t initially win over the man for whom the event is named.
“He’s a talented guy and he won his fight, but he wouldn’t shut up. The entire fight he was talking to me – the whole fight,” White said at the UFC 227 post-fight press conference… This guy comes in and is talking s—t the entire fight. So I said, ‘I’m not signing this guy. I don’t want him; I’m not interested.’”
Holland defeated Will Santiago Jr. via unanimous decision at the UFC Training Center on June 12 for his fourth consecutive win, but the UFC president was true to his word. The 25-year-old known as “Trailblazer” did not initially receive a deal with the Las Vegas-based promotion.
Things changed a few weeks later, when veteran knockout artist Thiago Santos was in need of an opponent at UFC 227. While the identity of the Brazilian’s original foe was unclear, only Holland was willing to step in on short notice and face “Marreta.”
“Thiago Santos’ fight falls out, and I said, ‘Let’s call some Contender guys that we liked.’ They all turned down the fight,” White said.
“I said, ‘Call Big Mouth. I want to see if Big Mouth takes this fight.’ He took the fight. Came in and fought the fight. Still talking sh—t with Thiago Santos, this beast. Took this fight on two weeks notice and is still talking. Talking so much his mouthpiece fell out. But wow, he looked good.”
While Santos won the fight via unanimous decision, Holland recovered from a rough beginning to actually bank the second round on all three judges’ scorecards. Even in defeat, the Fort Worth, Texas, native generated a buzz.
“All the celebrities that were there loved Holland,” White said. “That’s all they wanted to talk about. They loved him.”
Perhaps more importantly, the fighter who earned the moniker “Big Mouth” from the UFC boss is going to get another shot in the Octagon.
“Much respect to Holland,” White said. “He was very impressive tonight…He gassed out in the third, but he took this thing on two weeks’ notice. We’ll give him the proper time to train, get ready for a fight and we’ll give him another fight.”