In an exhilarating showdown to kick off the UFC 291 main card, wrestler Michael Chiesa faced off against the versatile and thrilling Kevin Holland, known for his Kung-Fu style.
Holland, who had experienced wrestling challenges as a middleweight, showed significant improvement since moving down to the welterweight division. His only loss at 170 lbs came against the dominant Khamzat Chimaev. After an epic clash with Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson in 2022, Holland bounced back with a victory over Santiago Ponzinibbio earlier this year, setting his sights on securing a ranked position once again.
On the other side, Michael Chiesa, the twelfth-ranked welterweight, took a two-year break after facing back-to-back losses in 2021. His return to the octagon left fans curious about his form, with many expecting him to rely on his wrestling prowess against the formidable Kevin Holland.
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As the bout commenced, Chiesa adopted a southpaw stance and circled on the outside of the cage. Holland applied gentle pressure, and in an aggressive flurry, he unleashed powerful uppercuts against Chiesa’s guard. Kevin then pushed Chiesa, leading him to stumble and fall, but Chiesa quickly recovered and got back on his feet.
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In an attempt to take Holland down, Chiesa initiated a single-leg takedown, transitioning to a body-lock. However, Holland demonstrated excellent defense and secured the outside clinch position. Chiesa then tried for an inside trip, almost succeeding, but Holland skillfully defended by re-shooting and using the fence for support. Holland pressed forward, delivering a significant knee strike that dropped Chiesa to his knees. Seizing the opportunity, Holland locked in a tight d’Arce choke, leaving Chiesa no choice but to tap out.
The shocking victory prompted speculation about Chiesa’s potential retirement, as he started to remove his gloves after. Kevin Holland’s interview added more intrigue when he humorously mentioned “missing kids being born to be here,” suggesting a personal event in his life.
Yet, as known for his playful demeanor, Holland remarked that if the ‘BMF’ belt is no longer contested at welterweight, he might move back up to the 185-lbs division, jokingly citing his love for steak and intimacy.
With this impressive win, Kevin Holland makes a strong case for himself in the welterweight division. As the dust settles, the UFC 291 main card begins with an exhilarating performance that promises more action-packed showdowns to follow. Official Result: Kevin Holland def. Michael Chiesa by Submission (d’Arce), Round 1, 2:39.