2021 was an unsuccessful year in regards to fighting for both Holland and Diaz. After an incredible five-victory 2020, “Trailblazer” entered it hoping to surge towards title contention. Instead, he fell to two defeats and was knocked unconscious by a clash of heads in his third outing.
Diaz, meanwhile, returned to the Octagon for the first time in nearly seven years. His highly-anticipated comeback saw him re-visit a feud from 2004. In a rematch 17 years in the making, he faced Robbie Lawler on the UFC 266 main card last September.
With his pre-fight antics and need for a late weight-class change, it was pretty apparent fans wouldn’t be seeing the Diaz of old in the cage. After a relentless pace in the opening two rounds, the Stockton native struggled to hang with “Ruthless” in the third and failed to return to his feet after being sent to the canvas by Lawler’s strikes.
As surprising as it probably seems, Holland and Diaz do have a history of their own outside the Octagon. But while the clash of names may come as a shock, the scenario is about as classic Nick Diaz as it could be.
During a recent appearance on Ariel Helwani’s The MMA Hour, Holland explained what happened when he first met Diaz in person at his Dana White‘s Contender Series fight in 2018.
After the former Strikeforce and WEC welterweight champion became agitated at the fact “Big Mouth” was apparently wearing “his shirt,” Holland says Diaz swung at him but failed to connect.
“It was funny. I think he was pretty sauced at the time though, so, you know, it’s alright. At the time, I used to be sponsored by this company named Specimen, right. So I had this shirt on from Specimen, and he was like, ‘Hey, that’s my shirt.’ But I had walked past him and I was like, ‘Yo, what’s up, OG?’ I guess he probably thought somebody was coming up to him and fanboying over him, but I was talking to my coach, I call my coach ‘OG.’
“I guess he felt some type of way. And he said something, so I said something back… He said like, that was his shirt, he was like, ‘You got on my fucking shirt,’ and I was like, ‘Bro, this ain’t your fucking shirt, what’re you talking about?’ I was like, ‘Bro, you must be fucked up.’ He was looking at me all crazy… Then, next thing I know, he like, swung at me… Fuck no (did he connect). I’m the type of person you takedown, not the type of person you hit in the face.”
While Diaz’s Future is Uncertain, Holland Will Move Down To WW
After Diaz’s return performance last September, many have called for the Stockton legend to hang up his gloves for good. But while that appears to be the general consensus, some are hoping to see the 38-year-old in action again in 2022. One of those names is Michael Bisping, who recently suggested Diaz should face Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in a clash of veterans.
The future is a lot more certain for Holland. After failing to break into title contention at 185 pounds thanks to the roadblocks of Derek Brunson and Marvin Vettori, and with Kyle Daukaus pre-occupied for the coming months, “Trailblazer” is set to return to welterweight, a division he’s yet to test the waters of in the UFC, but a weight he went 4-1 at before signing with the promotion.
In a matchup first announced on his newly-created OnlyFans, Holland will be welcomed to 170 pounds by Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira at UFC 272 on March 5.
With their career trajectories on firmly different paths, it seems Holland and Diaz’s brief scuffle in 2018 will be the closest we get to the pair squaring off inside the Octagon.
How do you think a fight in the Octagon between Kevin Holland and Nick Diaz would play out?