Chris Holland Ring of Fire 38With back-to-back knockout victories in his two most recent fights, Colorado prospect Chris “Hammer” Holland has not only righted a career that started out 2-3, but has also earned the opportunity to take things to the next level as he headlines this weekend’s Ring of Fire event against former UFC and Pride veteran Phil “NY Bad Ass” Baroni.

“When they first brought it to my attention, I jumped right at it,” exclaimed Holland. “I have so much respect for him for what he’s done and the people he’s fought and where he’s been. However, getting to know him more as the fight (promotion) has progressed, I can’t stand him and I can’t wait to punch him.”

On paper, it would seem that Holland is at a disadvantage to the more experienced Baroni, but he told MMAWeekly.com that he doesn’t see it that way.

“It’s clear he has a huge advantage in the amount of fights, almost double the amount I’ve had in some of the biggest events in the world, but I think he’s on a downslide,” said Holland. “That’s going to be washed away, where he’s been at and what he’s done. Saturday is a new day and I don’t feel I’ll be overmatched at all.

“In seven pro fights, six have been main events, so I’ve fought the best fighters every single time and that’s what I’m built for.”

It’s no secret that Baroni’s greatest strength lays in his knockout ability. And while conventional wisdom would tell Holland to avoid standing up in their fight, he won’t let his opponent dictate his tactics.

“Everybody knows he has great hands that are very fast, dangerous and powerful, but so are mine,” said Holland. “I think everybody’s game plan is to wear him out either against the cage or on the ground, and I definitely want to stay away from his power and respect it, but at the same time I want to finish it with a knockout.

“We’ll stay standing as long as I feel comfortable.”

As well as Baroni’s strengths are documented, so are his weaknesses, especially when it comes to conditioning. As Holland pointed out, “That’s exactly what my camp is thinking.

“He’s coming up in elevation from Las Vegas to Denver, which is like 3,000 feet difference, and it’s going to be a big problem for him, even if he had good stamina.”

Experiencing career resurgence, Holland feels now is the time to take the next step in his career, starting with Saturday’s Ring of Fire event in Broomfield, Colo.

“Since I’ve moved camp (to Factory X Muay Thai), I’ve had two knockout wins in a row, and hopefully this will be my third,” he said. “With the guys I’m fighting having fought in Bellator and the UFC; I’ve definitely set my sights on matches in promotionslike that.

“I think (knocking out) Phil Baroni will be my way to do it.”

E-mail Mick Hammond
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