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In what should be a phenomenal striking battle (for however long it lasts), explosive Muay Thai stylist, Thiago “Marreta” Santos, takes on crafty kickboxer and UFC newcomer, Kevin “Trailblazer” Holland. Who will win this exciting bout and ascend up the middleweight rankings?
“Marreta” by Name and Nature
“Marreta” (Portuguese for “sledgehammer”) is an appropriate nickname for Thiago Santos, who fires off his left kick with devastating intentions. The Brazilian fan favorite is certainly not a point fighter. With ferocious blitzes of punches and an array of thudding Muay Thai kicks in his arsenal, Santos either obliterates his opponents or goes out on his shield.
This kill or be killed style is amazingly entertaining, but I question whether Santos will be able to become a legitimate contender without tightening up his defense. Predominantly fighting out of the orthodox stance, Santos switches to southpaw to fire his trademark left body and high kicks. If you’re not looking out for this, you might end up lying on the canvas like Canadian brawler, Steve Bosse.
Santos’ opponent, Kevin Holland, is a technical striker and will be aware of Santos’ most dangerous weapons.
It’s worth noting that at 34-years-of-age, Santos shows no signs of athletic decline. However, his durability could be diminishing. In his last fight, he was knocked out by David Branch, an excellent Jiu-Jitsu player that is not known for his heavy hands.
This fight was only a couple of months ago, and he once again has to cut down to 185 pounds this weekend. Santos is a huge middleweight, and these big weight cuts will take a toll on your body.
Cocky or Confident?
Unorthodox kickboxer, Kevin Holland, is self-assured to the point of arrogance - even referring to the much-feared Santos as a “straight bum” in the lead up to this fight. Given Santos’ ability to end a fight in one strike, this is not the type of opponent you should be taking lightly.
Holland fights out of a wide stance, indicative of his traditional martial arts background, and fires off creative strikes at range. In particular, his teep and lead high kicks tend to catch opponents off guard. Unlike some fighters with a traditional striking background, Holland is not out of his depth in the clinch and throws nasty knees and elbows to drop his opponents.
While this fight is unlikely to hit the mat, “Trailblazer” has serviceable Jiu-Jitsu and can use his lanky frame to catch opponents in submissions.
Despite standing 6’3 tall with an 81-inch reach, Holland sometimes lunges straightforward when he attacks and leaves himself open to being hit - as we saw in his last fight against the hilariously undersized Will Santiago.
He better not do that this weekend.
Dog or Pass
Stylistically, this would appear to be a favorable matchup for Santos. He has a significant power advantage and will look to assassinate the lead led of Holland, who fights out of a wide stance.
However, given the Brazilian’s questionable chin and defensive lapses, I cannot recommend him at -400.
While he could undoubtedly get starched by a head kick in the first round, this is a winnable fight for Kevin Holland.
Both fighters are dangerous, and both fighters could easily make critical mistakes to cost them the fight. For that reason, I’ll play the value and take my chances with the underdog.
Pick: Kevin Holland +300
Check out my other UFC 227 predictions.
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