MMA Record: 17-6
UFC Record: 9-5
Notable Wins: Anthony Smith, Jack Hermansson, Nate Marquardt, Elias Theodorou
Notable Losses: Dave Branch, Gegard Mouasi, Uriah Hall, Eric Spicely
Last Fight: KO loss to Dave Branch
Fighter Profile: One of the most feared middleweights in the UFC, Santos is a destroyer. The big Brazilian has won nine times in the Octagon with eight of those wins coming by brutal knockout. Santos has massive power in his hands and feet and is able to knock out anyone at 185lbs. Having said that, he’s not without his flaws. Santos’ own chin is a bit of a question mark as he’s been stopped a few times in his career, and his ground game isn’t the greatest when he’s on his back. But as far as striking goes, very few middleweights will want to stand and bang with Santos, and he seems poised to be a top-15 middleweight for a few more years.
MMA Record: 12-3
UFC Record: Debut
Notable Wins: Geoff Neal
Notable Losses: Curtis Millender, Rafael Lovato Jr.
Last Fight: Decision win over Will Santiago
Fighter Profile: A former competitor on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, Holland is being signed on the strength of a four-fight win streak and a 9-1 record in his last 10 fights. A tall middleweight, Holland has shown tremendous finishing skills in his career so far as almost all of his victories have come by either knockout or submission. Having said that, he’s generally defeated lower-tiered opposition and has struggled the few times he has moved up in competition. We’ll have see how he fares in the UFC when he fights better competition, and until then it’s hard to say just how good he really is.
Fight Breakdown: This is such a tough UFC debut for Holland, in my opinion. Not only is he stepping in on short notice to fight in the opening main card bout of a pay-per-view, but he’s also taking on a guy in Santos who packs a serious punch. Although Holland is the younger fighter and on a win streak, I just feel like he’s going to really struggle with Santos, who is super aggressive and who is going to be the more physically strong fighter in this fight. I feel like Santos is going to come out really aggressive in this one and catch Holland on the chin and finish him with a brutal knockout.
Prediction: Thiago Santos via KO