At UFC on ESPN 21, the always-outspoken Kevin Holland lived up to the ‘Big Mouth’ moniker given to him by Dana White, as he turned to retired UFC legend Khabib Nurmagomedov for coaching during his main event against Derek Brunson.
The problem: Nurmagomedov was attending as a fan and sitting ringside next to UFC president Dana White.
After being dominated by Brunson’s wrestling and ground strikes in the first round, ‘Trailblazer’ 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, later noting that the pressure of being in a UFC main event might have gotten the better of Holland.
Holland has since made the move to the welterweight division, after bouts with Marvin Vettori, Khamzat Chimaev and the aforementioned Brunson made it abundantly clear that he was undersized for 185lb. At UFC Orlando, Holland faces off against Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson in yet another main event spot.