Rival on Israel Adesanya: ‘He’s Not the Champion Anymore’

UFC Champ Israel Adesanya


Rising UFC middleweight contender Kevin Holland believes he’ll be fighting for the UFC’s vacant 185-pound belt soon. There’s only one problem with the idea: the title isn’t actually vacant.

UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya tried and failed to become the fifth UFC “champ champ” in history at UFC 259 earlier this month but couldn’t quite wrestle away the UFC light heavyweight championship from Jan Blachowicz. Regardless, “Izzy” remained middleweight champ.

Well, he remained that to most people.

“No, he’s not the champion anymore. He lost. He’s talking about being ‘King of the Middleweights’. If he’s ‘King of the Middleweights’, then I’m a super welterweight. Quit that s***,” Holland said.

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UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs. Holland

UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs. Holland, aka UFC Vegas 22, will be the 28-year-old’s first main event fight in the UFC.

The action-packed card is scheduled for Saturday, March 20. Prelims are set to begin at 7 p.m. ET, followed by the main card at 10 p.m. ET.

Holland enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2020 by going 5-0, and many pundits expect him to continue his march up the rankings in 2021, too. His last win was a stunning first-round knockout over “Jacare” Souza.

The tenacious Texan believes beating Derek Brunson would put him right where he wants to be.

“Yeah, I definitely think I’ll be in title contention if I win this fight, but the thing about it is we’re fighting for a vacant belt so there ain’t no telling who could fight for it next,” Holland said.

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Holland Not Impressed By Middleweight Champ’s Credentials

Holland explained more about why he doesn’t consider Adesanya the champion anymore.

“Well, the last guy who was the 185-pound champ, he decided to go up a weight class and lost. As far as I’m concerned, if you’re the champ and you lose, you lose everything,” Holland said.

Previously, Holland revealed a run-in with Adesanya but also said he wouldn’t provide any details about that encounter to the media until the two were matched in a fight.

But Holland was happy to express how he viewed the UFC’s current middleweight champion as a fighter.

“I don’t believe in all this hype stuff everybody talks about. Either you got it or you don’t. He’s one of the few people who has lost in every combat sport there is that he ever competed in,” Holland said.

Adesanya suffered the only loss of his MMA career against 205-pound champ Blachowicz in his last fight. Before becoming an MMA fighter, Adesanya was a decorated kickboxer (75-5), and he also enjoyed a brief stint in traditional boxing (5-1).

Holland remains unimpressed with all of it.

“I don’t know how everybody else is looking at this, but that’s how I’m looking at it. The only hype is the hype people give to people. Everybody is hyping up that man, and everybody is hyping up a guy who has lost at every combat sport he’s ever done. That’s crazy,” Holland said.

Holland Offers Prediction for UFC Fight Night

Holland believes he’s on his way to securing UFC gold at 185, but he’ll have to get by dangerous veteran Brunson first.

That won’t be an easy task. Brunson enters the fight on a three-fight win streak, and the 37-year-old American is coming off a stunning win over rising star Edmen Shahbazyan.

But Holland expects to finish Brunson. He offered his prediction for Saturday’s showdown.

“I plan for him to shoot for a lot of takedowns, and I plan for me to go for a lot of punches. My punches add up, and he goes to sleep. Or his takedown lands, and I sub him. One, or the other,” Holland said.

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