MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the main event of UFC Vegas 23, a five-round middleweight bout between Marvin Vettori and Kevin Holland. The event takes place on Saturday, April 10 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Marvin Vettori (-330)
Vettori (16-4-1) is the No. 6 ranked middleweight in the UFC. The 27-year-old Italian is 6-2-1 overall in the UFC, with wins over Jack Hermansson, Karl Roberson, and Cezar Ferreira, and with losses to Israel Adesanya and Antonio Carlos Junior, plus a draw with Omari Akhmedov. Vettori is a physically strong middleweight who has been rapidly improving every time we see him fight. Since losing a narrow split decision to Adesanya in 2018, Vettori has won his last four fights in a row, including a breakthrough performance against Hermansson in his last outing. In that fight, which Vettori took on short notice, he showed a well-rounded game and good cardio as we he was able to go the full five rounds and dominate his opponent. Vettori is a very well-rounded fighter who is good everywhere. He was originally set to fight Darren Till but ended up taking on Holland after Till withdrew due to injury. With a win over Holland, Vettori will get one step closer to getting a middleweight title shot.
Kevin Holland (+270)
Holland (21-6) is the No. 10 ranked middleweight in the UFC. The 28-year-old American is 8-3 overall in the UFC with notable wins over Ronaldo Souza, Darren Stewart, Gerald Meerschaert, Joaquin Buckley, and Anthony Hernandez, plus losses to Derek Brunson, Thiago Santos, and Brendan Allen. Holland has been a professional MMA fighter since 2015 and fought for promotions such as Bellator, LFA, and Dana White’s Contender Series before getting a shot in the big show. Since joining the UFC, Holland has turned into a fan favorite for his finishing abilities on the feet and on the ground, not to mention his trash-talking and colorful personality. Holland has KO power as we’ve seen against Souza and Buckley and submissions as we saw against John Phillips. He’s a long middleweight and was blessed with a long reach, he has a good chin, and he has good cardio. The biggest concern with Holland is his takedown defense. He’s easy to take to the ground at times, and as we saw against Brunson, he felt little urgency to get back to his feet. I don’t think Holland is as bad as we saw in the Brunson fight, but I do feel like the clear path to victory against him has been laid out now. If you can take Holland down and control him, you can mentally break him, too.
Fight Breakdown: If you told me a month ago that Holland would be +270 against Vettori, I would have obviously taken him. But after the debacle that was the Brunson fight, I just can’t trust him anymore. First off, I think Holland is fighting in the wrong weight class. I believe he should have dropped to 170lbs, though I can’t blame him for taking another paycheck and jumping back in the cage quickly against Vettori. That being said, I don’t like this matchup for him. Vettori is a big, strong middleweight with underrated grappling and he should also be able to stand on the feet and bang with Holland if need be. However, now that Brunson has shown that Holland can be controlled on the ground, I feel like Vettori will look to initiate the grappling in this fight instead. I think the odds are a bit too long here, but I can’t pick Holland after that last performance. Give me Vettori by decision.
Prediction: Marvin Vettori