In between the big events with superstar headliners and pay-per-view magic, there is the UFC on ESPN events that are just as exciting, and not to mention a springboard for many fighters who go on to be the next big thing. Some of the most impressive fights of this year have come from UFC on ESPN, including Dan Ige’s mouth-dropping one-punch KO on Gavin Tucker in just 22 seconds. Coming up on March 20th, UFC on ESPN 21 will be headlined by Derek Brunson and Kevin Holland, as both men face each other for the first time ever, making their push for a title shot in the middleweight division against Israel Adesanya. You may not always find the UFC on ESPN events on mainstream media, but some cool spots like bet-tn.com cover everything from which fighter is coming in hot and more.
Brunson, a career 21-7 career fighter has once lost to Adesanya, but has since put together a nice little run, including clobbering Edmen Shahbazyan in his last outing. Brunson is working his way into the contention picture, and with Adesanya reeling from the Blachowicz loss, it may be an ideal opportunity to strike, but he will have to get past Holland. Brunson is a hard-hitter, with 57% of his career wins coming by way of KO or TKOs, but in Holland he will be facing a similar hard-hitter, albeit younger and more variety to his game.
Holland is nine years younger than Brunson, and practically in the prime of his career at age 28. The Texas native fighting out of Phalanx MMA Academy, is putting together a nice run of his own, going back to last year, and is currently on a five-fight winning streak. Winning against Brunson will take him closer into the title contention picture, but that is easier said than done. Against Darren Stewart, Holland showed he could grind out a victory on decisions, but he usually ends his fights before decisions can come into play. Youth may be a factor of advantage for him, and in his last fight, came in a pound lighter than Brunson in his last outing. If he can maintain than slim difference, his movement should be a tad better than Brunson’s. Adesanya may have some doubt in his mind after stepping up a class to face Blachowicz, making it the perfect time for contenders in the middleweight division to go for him, or maybe not, when you look at how Adesanya has wiped out his contenders so far.
In the other fights on the card,
American Gregor Gillespie, will take on Kiwi Brad Riddell. After starting his career 13-0, Gillespie suffered his first loss in 2019 against Kevin Lee, and has not fought ever since. His return should be quite a welcome, and if he maintained his level, then Riddell should be a solid but winnable fight. Riddell is 9-11 in his career but has won his last six fights since losing to Abel Brites in 2018. Another highly anticipated bout will be Trevin Giles going up against the South African Dricus du Plessis.
Roberto Villa is the CEO, Executive Writer, Senior Editor of FightBook MMA. Has a passion for Combat Sports and also a podcast host for Sitting Ringside. He’s also a former MMA fighter and Kickboxer.
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