The always-outspoken Kevin Holland turned to recently retired UFC legend Khabib Nurmagomedov for coaching during his UFC on ESPN 21 main event against Derek Brunson.
The problem: Nurmagomedov was attending as a fan and sitting ringside next to UFC president Dana White.
After getting dominated by Brunson’s wrestling and ground strikes in the first round, “Big Mouth” returned to his corner and quickly engaged in a light-hearted conversation with Nurmagomedov regarding Brunson’s takedowns.
“The Eagle” appeared to laugh for a good majority of the back-and-forth in between rounds and even UFC president Dana White looked as if he seemed entertained by Holland’s bravado.
But as the fight went on and his struggles continued, the jovial atmosphere at ringside turned into genuine concerns about Holland’s focus in the Octagon.
Brunson went on to win the fight by unanimous decision (49-46 x 3) mostly due to complete control on the ground and unpredictability on the feet. Holland landed some early right hands in the first round that had Brunson in trouble, but the UFC veteran was able to withstand the barrage and dominated the rest of the fight.
Following the fight, White left the UFC Apex completely befuddled by Holland’s antics in the octagon. White opined that the pressure of being in a UFC main event might have gotten the better of Holland.
After a series of meetings with White, Nurmagomedov decided to remain retired and vacate his UFC lightweight title. Top contenders Charles Oliveira and Michael Chandler will compete for the belt at UFC 262 on May 15th.
As for Holland, he’ll most likely take a hit in the rankings in the UFC’s stacked middleweight division. Holland also teased a potential move to welterweight during his appearance on the UFC on ESPN 21 post-fight show.
What did you think of this ringside exchange between Kevin Holland and Khabib Nurmagomedov? What do you believe is next for “Big Mouth” in the UFC?