LAS VEGAS - UFC president Dana White doesn't think Kevin Holland genuinely meant he wanted to retire.
After getting quickly submitted by Khamzat Chimaev in a 180-pound catchweight bout at UFC 279 earlier this month, Holland (23-8 MMA, 10-5 UFC) posted on social media that he was done with the sport, saying "I'm out."
But White thinks Holland spoke out of frustration. The 29-year-old, who was MMA Junkie's 2020 Male Fighter of the Year, has shown moments of brilliance throughout his career but struggled against some of the top grapplers in the UFC.
"I'm really close to this kid, and I like him a lot," White told MMA Junkie and other reporters Tuesday at the UFC Apex. "I think when you are competing in a sport like this, and you've done the things that Kevin Holland has done. He gets out of the fight with (Derek) Brunson and realizes that he needs to work on his wrestling more.
"So he dives in and starts working on his wrestling, and I think when what happened to him happens to you, I think you lay in bed at night and go, 'Holy sh*t, how did that happen to me?' He's an emotional guy. I think the emotions got the best of him. Just take some time, get back in the gym and whatever he wants to do obviously - I love the kid, whatever he wants to do, he can do. But it's a little too soon for him to retire."
Prior to the first-round loss to Chimaev, Holland scored back-to-back bonus-winning finishes against Alex Oliveira and Tim Means. He expressed interest in fighting a striker like Daniel Rodriguez or Stephen Thompson next before deciding to hint at retirement.
Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie