How Kevin Holland-Marvin Vettori UFC clash will play out

Francis Ngannou’s knockout of Stipe Miocic in UFC 260 solidified “Insight the Octagon’s” profitability for the first quarter of 2021 to 8-5 and +3.95 units.

Successfully grinding profit in any sporting endeavor requires a dedication to due diligence, selective placement of wagers and, equally as important, precision record keeping. If you adhere to these levers of success for a UFC calendar year, rest assured that the profit will take care of itself.

The second quarter of 2021 begins with ABC’s second UFC production. However, one of its headliners, Englishman Darren Till, broke his collarbone in sparring and is out of the fight. Prelims for this card start at noon ET on Saturday in Las Vegas.

Marvin Vettori -300 vs. Kevin Holland +240

Middleweight (185 pounds), main event

The eighth-ranked Vettori welcomes the familiar Holland to the octagon in a fight that could more resemble feeding time in the Serengeti than a competitive bout.

The 10th-ranked Holland was dominated by Derek Brunson as a -180 favorite inside three weeks ago as the main event of UFC Vegas 22. The impression Holland left is such that I don’t believe he had much choice in taking this bout.

Holland was the only real ranked option the organization had to save its main event. I would have paid many units to be privy to the conversation between the UFC and Holland after his huge stink bomb last month, for I believe it was a one-sided lecture at which Holland listened and the UFC spoke.

Vettori is a kickboxing-based fighter decorated with a blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He’s aggressive, forward-pressing and unrelenting in pursuit of engagement. Vettori, who can be quite emotional, must be measured in this bout, for his only real chance to lose is if he takes Holland too lightly and walks into a Sunday shot or sidewinding shin.

Vettori must press Holland and eliminate distance and space, which will enable him to use the plan Brunson used so successfully to dominate Holland, who has an unrefined way of trying to win mixed martial arts bouts.

Kevin Holland punches Derek Brunson.
Kevin Holland punches Derek Brunson.
Getty Images

Vettori fought current champion Israel Adesanya to a split decision in April 2018. Vettori was very competitive despite being inexperienced. His competitiveness in that bout and the confidence gained by going the distance with Adesanya fuels his intensity to earn another crack at the champion. Vettori is an ascending fighter whom most in the division wish to avoid. That includes Adesanya, who is aware that Vettori might represent his greatest challenge.

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Holland is ranked 10th only because the organization has not lowered him after his embarrassment against Brunson. He’s in a unique position here. Usually he’d be lauded for stepping in on a 10-day notice to help the organization save a main event. But in this case, I wonder if the UFC posed the bout to him thusly: Take this bout or else.

Holland must be motivated to redeem himself by putting forth a solid effort. The issue is that he has been put in there against one hungry and dangerous fighter in Vettori, who will look to devour Holland should he display any weakness.

Holland must keep this bout standing and pick and peck the incoming Vettori with jabs, crosses, uppercuts, kicks and elbows, all of which rely on fluid movement and space management. If Holland can frustrate the raging bull, he might be able to get his hot-headed opponent to rush into something.

The surprise KO is Holland’s sole opportunity, in my judgment. I handicap Vettori to be a more complete mixed martial artist. He has faced superior talent, he owns a substantial advantage on the ground, and he’ll be the larger and heavier man in the cage.

Vettori has little to gain and everything to lose in this spot, yet I think he’ll win impressively. That could spell an immediate fall from grace for Holland, who might not have the mentality to thrive in the UFC.

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Total for this fight: 4.5 rounds. Under -145.

Sodiq Yusuff -130 vs. Arnold Allen +110

Featherweight (145 pounds), co-main event

This fight does not have the name power to be regarded as main event material, but it will feature the keenest of competitors matched in what should be an absolute stand-up dandy.

The 10th-ranked Allen is undefeated in seven UFC bouts. Early in that run, he beat some decent opponents, but his past three opponents were not high-level talent. His last bout was in January 2020, so I’m leery about that inactivity. But shy of that reservation, it’s unusual that a talent like this has not attained higher-profile fights.

The Brit is well versed in BJJ but uses quickness and precision striking as his best weapons. He’ll need to utilize leg work and fluid movement to outstrike and evade strikes from his more powerful opponent. Allen’s tactic will be to decision Yusuff via counter-striking.

Yusuff happens to be ranked 11th, so there’s real importance in this result for both. When I examine Yusuff’s recent fights, I see high-quality wins against diverse fighting styles. The fact that he has been a bit more active than Allen and he’s the more powerful, aggressive striker leads me to regard him as just a slight favorite.

Yusuff will be the forward-pressing initiator in this bout — the matador and the bull!

Yusuff opened -130.

Total for this fight: 2.5 rounds. Over -200.

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