By: Nicholas Gilanfar
Saturday, September 16th will be a rarity for UFC fans as the promotion will be featuring a title fight on a non-pay-per-view event honoring Mexico’s Independence Day as the current women’s flyweight champion from Mexico Alexa Grasso looks to defend her title against Valentina Shevchenko.
Fighting in the co-main event will be DFW’s rising welterweight prospect #13 Kevin “Trail Blazer” Holland who will be facing #14 Jack Della Maddalena. The upcoming co-main event will be a focal point in the welterweight division as both fighters have the potential to shake the division for years to come.
Holland’s Ironman Ability
Kevin Holland fights out of Ft. Worth at Travis Lutter Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and has a second-degree black belt in Kung Fu and a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu holding a professional record of 25-9-0. The local product was notably a former fighter of Xtreme Knockout which is an MMA promotion that takes place throughout the Dallas Metroplex. Holland’s professional career began in 2015 fighting 15 times from 2015-2018, a record of 12-3, earning a contract in the UFC in mid-2018.
Kevin Holland started his career in the Middleweight division as his first two years resulted in a record of 3-2, still getting his foot in the door in the division. Although it was a rocky start for Holland’s first two years, he took the UFC by storm in 2020 fighting five times and winning them all. Holland’s five wins in 2020 tied a UFC record for most wins in a calendar year. Due to Holland’s outrageous efforts, the UFC started to give him opponents within the top of the middleweight rankings in 2021 fighting current #7 Roman Dolidze and former #8 Derek Brunson which both resulted in losses.
After dropping two fights in a row, Holland decided to move from 185 pounds to 170 lbs. and start competing in the welterweight division. In 2022 Holland fought four times holding a record of 2-2 losing his last two fights of the year. Although he suffered another losing streak it did not take too much of a blow in his current stature. In 2023 he has been able to go 2-0 to pick up a spot on the welterweight rankings for the first time in his career.
Kevin Holland Scouting Report
As mentioned before, Holland has black belts in Kung Fu and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu trained by former UFC fighter Travis Lutter. His credibility in kung fu and BJJ is clear, but as his career has gone on, he has progressively gotten better each fight with his striking. Holland uses an orthodox style of fighting as he fights with his left foot and left hand in front of his body while the right limbs are in the rear which means his left hand and foot are his first resort in defense. In two fights this year Holland has shown he can cover ground with his fight arsenals finishing both of his fights, a knockout against Santiago Ponzinibbio and a submission against Michael Chiesa.
In April, Holland fought Santiago Ponzinibbio the two fighters were striking for the entirety of the fight. Before the end of the second round, Ponzinibbio begins to target Holland’s left leg to where Holland barely put any pressure on for the remainder of the fight, compromising Holland’s endurance. That did not matter though as Holland showed a lot of discipline for round three and was able to knock out Ponzinibbio with about three minutes left in the third round.
For Holland’s last fight in July, he fought #15 welterweight Michael Chiesa who has not fought in two years. Coming into the fight Holland had a five and a half reach advantage over Chiesa so it was assumed from the start that Holland would be looking to strike his way into the victory. He starts off with that plan as he hits Chiesa with two flying knees which puts him to the ground allowing Holland a submission opportunity he then puts him to sleep with Darce Choke winning the fight in close to three minutes via submission, Cementing a new ranking for Kevin Holland at #13.
Jack Della Maddalena Scouting Report
Jack Della Maddalena made his UFC debut in January 2022 after fighting in the contender series in 2021 earning himself a contract. JDM is 27 years old and is a top young talent in the UFC riding a 5-0 record which is the 13th best active win streak in the UFC.
JDM’s fight style is strictly MMA but will have great advantages standing up and striking with you as he has recorded three knockouts out of five fights in his young career. He last fought against Basil Hafez, who was making his UFC debut. Hafez is a wrestler and JDM had a tough time putting him out despite significant striking throughout the fight. Also, in that fight, JDM had 6 submission opportunities and was unable to finish Hafez but was still extremely aggressive throughout the entire fight getting him the win via decision. Della Maddelena is an undersized welterweight fighter at 5’11 but will still start fast and remain aggressive with his striking as the fight between Kevin Holland is likely to be a slugfest.
The upcoming co-main event is a must-watch for UFC fans as this will determine the build of the division moving forward. Based on both fighters’ styles, they will stick to a striking approach. Della Maddelena is a primary striker which leads to all belief that Holland will take the same approach to capitalize JDM’s striking ability. The size and reach advantage will expose JDM as he is four inches taller than him as well as an eight-inch reach advantage. That does not mean JDM will go down without a fight though as it will be tooth and nail till the end of the fight.
Prediction: Kevin Holland victory over Unanimous Decision
Main Card Start Time: Saturday, September 16, 10:00 PM ET (ESPN+)