Derek Brunson vs. Kevin Holland UFC Fight Night Odds, Picks, Predictions: Bet the Underdog in Main Event (Saturday, March 20)
Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images. Pictured (L-R): UFC fighters Derek Brunson and Kevin Holland.
- The UFC's middleweight division is stacked, and two of its top ranked fighters -- No. 7 Derek Brunson and No. 10 Kevin Holland -- face off Saturday night.
- Sean Zerillo explains why he's waiting for the underdog Brunson, at the right price only.
- Sean Zerillo previews the odds and matchup, including where to get the most betting value in this fight.
Derek Brunson vs. Kevin Holland Odds
Saturday’s fight night card concludes with an intriguing main event between No. 7 middleweight contender Derek Brunson and fast-rising No. 10 contender Kevin Holland who is looking for his sixth UFC victory in a 308 day-span.
“Big Mouth” enters off an impressive knockout win against Jacare Souza, where he finished the jiu-jitsu ace from bottom position while trash-talking the entire time:
Brunson, who is playing gatekeeper, will look to turn the tide on another up and comer in his familiar role of an underdog – after playing spoiler against both Ian Heinisch (opened +165, closed +100) and Edmen Shahbazyan (opened +230, closed +240) in his past two outings.
Below I preview the matchup and odds for Saturday’s fight. For more analysis and projections on the rest of the card, you can check out our best bets for UFC Vegas 22.
Tale of the Tape
|Derek Brunson||Kevin Holland|
|Avg. Fight Time||7:33||10:18|
|Weight (pounds)||185 lbs.||185 lbs.|
|Date of birth||1/4/84||11/5/92|
|Sig Strikes Per Min||3.77||4.74|
|SS Absorbed Per Min||2.95||2.77|
|Take Down Avg||3.02||1.19|
Holland is one of the most accurate strikers on the UFC roster, and he holds significant advantages over Brunson if this fight stays on the feet.
While Brunson carries fight-ending power, Holland is the far more technical striker, and he will maximize their four-inch reach discrepancy with the cleaner and straighter punches. Brunson also tends to leave his chin up when he presses forward, and Holland will be happy to stand back and land some clean counters to the jaw.
While Brunson’s durability under pressure is a concern, the biggest hole in either fighter’s game is Holland’s takedown defense (52%) — which has led to close decisions against lesser wrestlers like Gerald Meerschaert (6-of-11 on takedowns, with 9:12 of control time), Darren Stewart (3-of-8, 4:09 of control), and Thiago Santos (3-of-7, 9:37 of control) and cost him both minutes and rounds in other UFC bouts.
Both fighters have shown cardio concerns at the end of three-round fights, so it would be interesting to see how either looks in the championship rounds of a main event. And since Brunson has gone to his wrestling with more consistency in recent fights, I’d expect him to use early takedowns and cage work to try to gas Holland out.
In a three-round bout, I might give Brunson the edge, but it could be difficult for him to maintain that pace over the course of a five-fight, and since every round starts on the feet, I’m pretty worried that Holland eventually catches him clean on entry.
If this fight goes to a decision, you’ll need to weigh Brunson’s control time against Holland’s pace and volume — but this bout could finish in various ways.
Brunson vs. Holland Pick
Given the stylistic nature of the fight, both men seemingly have upside relative to their current odds, which shows Holland as an implied 64% favorite. Brunson could completely dominate the grappling, or Holland could completely dominate the striking – and either man is capable of recording an early finish or slogging to a decision.
I have Holland winning closer to 59% of the time (implied -144) in a five-round affair, but as I mentioned earlier, I might have considered Brunson to be the favorite in a three-round fight. Based upon my projected odds, I don’t see present value in betting either fighter on the moneyline.
And the prop market also tends to align with my projections — expecting this bout to end inside the distance 68% of the time (implied odds of -210) relative to listed odds of -200 (implied 66.7%). As a result, I don’t show value in the winning method market for either fighter.
I projected Holland to win inside the distance 50.1% of the time (implied +100) and Brunson 20% of the time (+400), compared to listed odds of -105 and +350, and I have their decision lined projected at +744 and +391, relative to listed odds of +475 and +350.
As a result, I cannot yet recommend an actionable wager on Saturday’s main event, but I do think Brunson is the value side and would play his moneyline at odds of +163 (implied 38%) or better, at a three percent edge against my projection (41%).
The Pick: Derek Brunson +168 (+163 or higher)