UFC 256 results, highlights: Kevin Holland caps off perfect 2020 with nasty knockout of Jacare Souza
Kevin Holland's meteoric rise to relevancy in the UFC's middleweight division just took an equally viral and violent step forward.
Improving to an incredible 5-0 in 2020, Holland (21-5) scored his most important victory to date on Saturday in a stunning first-round knockout of gritty veteran Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza (26-9, 1 NC) at UFC 256 in Las Vegas.
What made the knockout so unique was that it began with Holland's back to the ground while Souza worked from top position on his knees. After Holland partially sat up to land a right cross that stunned Souza, he rose up to land a stiff flurry of right hands that sent Souza backward into the cage and unconscious at 1:45 of the opening round.
"If I could give someone like 'Jacare' problems on the ground, then I guess I deserve my black belt," Holland said about training for the fight under head coach and former UFC title challenger Travis Lutter.
The 28-year-old Holland improved to 8-2 in the Octagon and continued to steal the headlines as one of the breakout new stars of the year for the promotion. But the fact that he handled himself so well on the ground after the 41-year-old Souza took him down is what was most impressive.
Holland scored with a variety of hard strikes despite being in such a vulnerable position long before the stoppage. In the end, Holland's confidence and athleticism proved too much against Souza's dramatic advantage in experience.
Staying true to his brand of late, Holland pleaded after the victory for UFC to consider him returning on next week's UFC Fight Night card, also at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Only Holland raised the ante by calling out fellow overnight sensation Khamzat Chimaev (9-0) who is 4-0 this calendar year.
"I just love to fight," Holland said. "I know my son doesn't want me to say this right now but Khamzat Chimaev is supposed to fight on Dec. 19 and he fights at 185 and 170. Come back up to 185. I think he should stay at 170 and I think he could be a champion at 170 but if he comes up here to 185, I'm going to bang that boy up. I'm going to bang him up.
"That's what he does, right? I think I do that better."