Kevin Holland doesn’t consider himself an acquaintance of Trevin Giles, but he’s certainly familiar.
Both Holland (17-5 MMA, 4-2 UFC) and Giles (12-2 MMA, 3-2 UFC), who square off Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, came up through the ranks on the Texas regional scene. Holland competed as a smaller middleweight or larger welterweight, whereas Giles fought mostly at 185 pounds.
Despite being from the same state, having the same manager, and being on a similar rise on a similar timeline, Holland told MMA Junkie their personal interactions have been limited. Holland did say, however, that Giles brushed off an offer by Holland to help him train for one of his fights.
“Nah, none at all,” Holland told MMA Junkie, when asked if the two had any sort of relationship. “I reached out to him a few times trying to help him out for fights. When he was fighting Meerschaert I was like, ‘Yeah, I’d be great for that.’ But he always seemed kind of busy and (expletive). Excuse my language. I don’t know. I always felt like he kind of brushed me off in training. Maybe after this, he’ll realize he should’ve taken my training a long time ago.”
In addition to his training offer, Holland revealed the two were booked to fight on the regional scene. At that time, Holland was lighter and lankier than he is now – so he admits he turned down the fight. Since his UFC tenure began, however, Holland has been interested in a matchup with Giles.
“I’ve seen him (fight) a few times,” Holland said. “I actually dropped a post about him a while back. But even before I dropped that post, I had been offered to fight him at the very beginning of my pro career. I actually turned the fight down, to be honest with you. … I always felt like it would be a strong man thing – I’d have to be strong enough. I’m way stronger than I used to be. I actually work out now.”
Confidence is not something Holland lacks before, during or after fights. Entering Saturday’s clash with Giles, it’s no different. Holland thinks his skills will reign superior.
“I’m the better fighter,” Holland said. “I’ve seen him on a local scale. We’ve never been on the same card or stuff like that. I’m always good enough to know I’m faster. I hit harder. I’ve heard out of somebody he’s fought before that he don’t crack that hard. I guess we’ll find out, right?”
UFC on ESPN+ 31 takes place Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The main card streams on ESPN+ after prelims on ESPN/ESPN+.