Kevin Holland’s retirement from MMA did not last long, but according to the UFC welterweight, that decision was—at the moment—very much for real. Further, it seems that walking away from the sport in the hours after he faces Stephen Thompson in the main event of Saturday’s UFC on ESPN 42 fight card remains a viable option for the 30-year-old.
Following his loss to Khamzat Chimaev at UFC 279, Holland wrote on social media, “Had a good run 30 in a little over a month got paid I’m out.”
Then in early October, he doubled down on that claim, saying, “So I’m retired. I’m officially retired. I’m retired from fighting. I had a good fight, good payday, I had a good run. I see some of the people online (saying) ‘obviously he realizes he’ll never get the belt’ and my little psychedelic trip, that means I was wrong. I can’t be wrong on a psychedelic trip. I’ve lost coming out to Young Boy. That was my last hope, never losing coming out to Young Boy. Times are rough for your boy.
“But I’m really, really happy on the green side. Unless something super-duper magical pops up, yeah, I’m pretty happy with the way things are.”
The next day, something super-duper magical popped up. The UFC offered him the chance to face Stephen Thompson in the main event of the Florida fight card.
Holland spoke about his brief retirement in the lead-up to Saturday’s fight card.
“(My retirement) was serious as hell—super serious,” Holland said during the UFC Orlando media day. “It’s still on the table. If I wake up Sunday morning after beating ‘Wonderboy’ and you guys have Chimaev fighting for a 185-pound world title, and he’s never won a fight at ‘85 in the top 15, I’m retired. I understand business is business, but favoritism is favoritism. The kid missed weight. I had to step up to fight him after he missed weight and make the fight happen. I shouldn’t had to do that, but I did what I had to do. I did what I was supposed to do for a company man,.
“So I’m sitting here telling you guys now, certain things have to go certain ways. If they don’t go certain ways with we don’t get what we were promised, the things we talked about aren’t honored, you might as well give me my resignation papers and let me go home and f—ing smoke weed and play video games for the rest of my life. Open up a twitch, see how I do.”
The UFC initially booked Holland opposite Daniel Rodriguez in a 180-pound catchweight fight at UFC 279. However, when Chimaev came in at 178.5 pounds for his scheduled welterweight fight opposite Nate Diaz, the UFC moved several fighters around. One of the fights that came out of the mess was Holland vs. Chimaev at 180 pounds.
When asked if he was referring to promises made during negotiations for the Chimaev fight, Holland replied, “I said what I said and you know what I mean.”
The 30-year-old welterweight added that there are a lot of things he sees in the sport he feels are unfair. However, the thing that drew the most ire from Holland is that the athletes’ opportunities seem to be based more on favoritism than merit.
“There’s just certain things that just don’t make sense,” Holland said. “At the end of the day, if we’re here and we’re here to be fair and we’re here to be even, everyone should have a fair chance. We’re fighters. We fight for what we want. We should be able to fight for what we want. We should be able to get the same things if we’re fighting the same way. That’s just how I feel. But I’m not here to b-tch, I’m not here to complain. I’m just here to do what I feel like is right and if I feel like something’s not right, I will move the f—k around, because that’s what I do.”
“I’ve always felt like this, added Holland. “But at the end of the day, I’m gonna do what I’m supposed to do as a company man. But that being said, you can only work for somewhere for so long before you start to feel some type of way and I always feel some type of way, I just keep my mouth shut.”
Holland vs. Thompson headlines UFC on ESPN 42, aka: UFC ORLANDO from Amway Center in Orlando, Florida on Saturday, December 3.
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