UFC middleweight contender Marvin Vettori was not impressed with what he saw in the March 20 main event bout between Derek Brunson and Kevin Holland. It’s a sentiment that is even more relevant now, because Holland will be replacing Darren Till in this Saturday’s UFC Fight Night headliner against Vettori.

Catch UFC Fight Night: Vettori vs. Holland LIVE today at 1pm et/10am pt on TSN5 and TSN Direct.

"It showed massive holes in both games,” Vettori told TSN. “One guy was strictly wrestling, one guy was strictly striking, there wasn’t an overall solidness, let’s put it that way, in their game and I don’t think it was a great main event. I’ll prove Saturday night, that I’m on a different level.”

The 27-year-old’s new opponent put together a spectacular 2020, winning all five fights he contested, including a performance of the night, earning a KO victory over Jacare Souza that will be making many highlight reels. However, in the aforementioned main event bout, the American’s only start so far in 2021, he was dominated by Brunson, dropping a lopsided unanimous decision.

Trying to gauge what you’re going to get out of the 28-year-old Holland can be tough, a fact that Vettori believes he’s ready to handle, even on short notice.

"Kevin Holland is wild you know, I feel like he goes into a fight without knowing what he’s going to do. So if he doesn’t know, it’s kinda hard to guess what he’s going to do,” said Vettori. “I’m prepared for whatever happens in there, some of the skills that you train are the ability to adjust and be able to deal with this kind of thing. Whatever he brings to the table, I’m just going to run through.”

The Trento, Italy, native is also interested in learning a little more about his previously scheduled opponent’s reason for dropping out of their fight. Vettori, who dealt with multiple fight changes last year, isn’t totally convinced by Till’s injury announcement.

"How? How? Two weeks out, I’m counting the days and again. I don’t know, the more time that goes by, the more I’m suspicious about this thing,” said Vettori. “I’m really focused on Holland right now, but we’ll see. I want to see the pictures, I want to see the X-rays. I was expecting him to show a little bit more, not just, ‘oh, I broke my collarbone, see you later guys.’ ”

Vettori isn’t the only member of his gym that has established himself as a contender in the UFC’s middleweight division. Fellow Kings MMA fighter Kelvin Gastelum has an upcoming bout with former champion Robert Whittaker as he tries to build to his own title shot.

The most recent welterweight title fight was between two former teammates and it forced champion Kamaru Usman to leave the gym. Vettori does not believe the same would occur if he and Gastelum ever had to meet with the gold on the line.

"I don’t think it would be weird, even if we had to fight each other,” said Vettori. “We go at it a lot in the gym, I don’t think it would be that weird. None of us would want to leave Kings and I don’t know. Maybe we would try the last few weeks not to catch up, we definitely are not going to spar against each other in the eventuality of a title fight.”

"If it was two people like me, I think there would be a problem, but because of Kelvin – Kelvin is the nicest guy ever – I don’t think there would be any weirdness in the build up to the fight. I’m not really worried about it, I wish him the best, I know he wishes me the best. It’s a good thing to worry about in the eventuality.”

Vettori lost a split decision bout to current champion Israel Adesanya back in 2018, before the latter captured the belt. The champion lost the first bout of his MMA career in March when he went up to light heavyweight to challenge the title holder in that weight class, Jan Błachowicz. 

Błachowicz dominated Adesanya to retain his title, so Vettori believes that with the improvements he’s made to his game since their first fight, he could do even better than that against the middleweight champion.

"I’m a completely changed fighter, I know he’s improved, too, but I think I’ve improved more than what he did,” said Vettori. “I think I could do better than what Jan did to Israel. I train with killers and I’m training boxing with world champions and I’m seeing skills that are way above and I know I can deal and do good with people that have skills that are way better than Israel. He’s a good fighter, but he’s not like, crazy. I think I can out strike him, I’m going to be able to see whatever he throws and trick him in the striking, that’s the funny part. It’s coming and I’m going to show it.”