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March 12, 2019

From the crowd to the octagon: Kevin Holland added to UFC Fight Night in Philly

When he was 16, Holland fell in love with UFC while visiting his family in Philadelphia. Now, they'll be watching him fight in the very same arena.

Finally, Philly fans will have a local rooting interest at the upcoming UFC Fight Night at the Wells Fargo Center.

PhillyVoice can confirm that middleweight Kevin Holland, whose paternal side of the family all hails from Philly, will face Gerald "GM3" Meerschaert on March 30th in South Philly, in the same arena in which he first fell in love with the sport. Back in January, we spoke to Holland, who is originally from California but now fights out of Fort Worth, Texas, about his first trip to Philly back in 2009, when he not only meet the Hollands for the first time, but also got his first up-close look at UFC in person.

"Back in the day, I was growing up, I didn't have my dad's side of the family around," Holland said. "They wanted to, but they were just so far away in Philadelphia. I lived in California, so that's a far trip. I didn't really know them, so I wanted to go out there. You get older — I was 16 years old — I'm like, I'm pretty grown. And they asked me to come out. I was doing martial arts at the time, and had only been doing it for like six months. I kind of knew what the MMA stuff was, but I wasn't super into it.

"I had just ordered UFC 100 — it was like the first fight I ever ordered. I was all into GSP [George St-Pierre] and stuff. I saw he had a little tattoo on his chest and I was like, 'Oh, I'm going to get a tattoo on my chest too.' I was like, GSP's the man. Then I saw Brock Lesnar was going to fight Frank Mir and thought there's no way the WWE guy is going to win. So, I just wanted to watch this. Next thing I know, my dad's people hit me up and are like, 'You coming to Philly? We'll hook it up [for UFC 101] in Philly.'

"I was like, 'Yeah, sure. I'll go to the fight.' So, they took me to the fight, and that was it. That was a wrap. When I seen Silva dodging those punches, back-stepping, knocking Griffin down, I was like holy crap."

For the last two months, Holland has been waiting to get the call, hoping he'd get a chance to fight in front the family members he describes as "Philly boys from birth, Philly boys 'til the day they die." 

"It'd be nice to fight in front of the Hollands, because when I first met them, it showed me where my warrior side comes from," Holland, 26, said during that interview. "More so, just fighting in Philadelphia 10 years after [going to my first UFC event there]. Everybody on Facebook is doing the '10 Year Challenge' right now, so f**k it — here's my 10 Year Challenge, from the crowd to inside the cage whoopin' ass. To me, that's big time."

His opponent will be Meerschaert, a 31-year-old veteran with a 4-2 record in the UFC (28-10 overall). His last bout was back in December, when he lost to Jack Hermansson, who is also on the Philly card, via first-round submission (guillotine choke). 

(We'll have more on Holland as it gets closer to the fight, but you can read his whole story here. We also still don't have an update of Burholme native Sean Brady, the CFFC welterweight champ who recently got called up to UFC and could be added to the Philly card before all is said and done. Stay tuned.)

In addition to the Holland vs. Meerschaert bout, UFC confirmed to PhillyVoice that one of the previously scheduled matchups has been changed due to an injury to one of the fighters. Instead of facing Liu Pingyuan as expected, Ray "The Tazmexican Devil" Borg will instead face Kyler Phillips in a bantamweight bout. 

There are now 13 bouts on the card according to our unofficial count. Here's what the card looks like so far:

Lightweight (main event): Edson “Junior” Barboza vs Justin “The Highlight” Gaethje 

Middleweight: David Branch vs. Jack "The Joker" Hermansson

Women's Strawweight: Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Michelle “The Karate Hottie” Waterson

Featherweight: Sodiq Yusuff vs. Sheymon Moraes

Women's Strawweight: Alexa Grasso vs. Marina Rodriguez

Lightweight: Ross "The Real Deal" Pearson vs. Desmond "The Predator" Green

Light Heavyweight: Kennedy Nzechukwu vs. Paul “BearJew” Craig

Women's Flyweight: Sabina Mazo vs. Maryna “Iron Lady” Moroz

Featherweight: Enrique "El Fuerte" Barzola vs. Kevin Aguilar

Bantamweight: Ray "The Tazmexican Devil" Borg vs. Kyler Phillips

Bantamweight: Alex Perez vs. Mark De La Rosa

Middleweight: Kevin Holland vs. Gerald "GM3" Meerschaert

Featherweight: Josh Emmett vs. Michael Johnson

[NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect that there are now 13 fights on the card, not 12 as the story originally stated. The one that was missing was Emmett vs. Johnson.]

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