Joseph Holmes (8-2 MMA, 1-1 UFC) is looking to go above .500 in his UFC career when he meets Jun Yong Park (14-5 MMA, 4-2 UFC) at the UFC Vegas event this Saturday at the APEX.
“Ugly Man” said his opponent, “The Iron Turtle,” is a tough, durable opponent, befitting of his nickname. Holmes also acknowledged Park is the more experienced of the two but is eager to learn when he steps into the Octagon.
“I’m excited to put my experience against his and gain what he knows, and take that into the fight after this,” Holmes said. “I just see it playing out my way, man. I’m just going to fight my own fight, move him where I want to move him. Just do whatever I’m supposed to do, listen to my coaches, and come out victorious. I’ll probably finish him in the second round. I’ll look for the finish in the first, but like I said, he’s really tough and durable.”
Holmes gave the experience edge to Park while acknowledging his toughness and durability. He said his advantages in the intangibles come in youth (Holmes is 27 vs. Park’s 31), height (6-inch advantage) and reach (7-inch advantage).
“I’m younger than he is. I’m fresher in the game. Hungrier,” Holmes said. “I finish my opponents. I come with a little bit more danger factor. He comes with a little bit more toughness, durability factor. I’m good everywhere. He’s best on the ground. I’m kind of good everywhere, so the fight can go anywhere and still be in my ballfield.”
It’s Holmes’s mindset of learning from his opponent in each fight that has led to his rapid improvements between each fight. Holmes, who only went pro in 2019, has been active as well, fighting five times in 2021 (including one kickboxing match) and is scheduled for his third fight of 2022.
Holmes was signed to the UFC in November 2021 after he TKO’d Jhonoven Pati at Fury FC 53, which doubled as a Dana White: Lookin’ For a Fight event.
“I feel like each time, I’ve gotten dramatically better. It shows in my training, it shows in the weight room, it shows when I’m sparring with people who I would spar with a year ago and how I would do against them then and how I do against them now. Yeah, man. Now, it’s going to show again in the Octagon again for the third time.”
Holmes took positives away from his first UFC fight with Jamie Pickett, where he lost a unanimous decision. “Ugly Man” pointed to Pickett’s experience edge and the fact he went the distance with him.
“I had good moments where I was winning that fight. It was a back-and-forth fight. Arguably, it could have gone either way, so I feel like, yeah, I get dramatically better with each fight.”
Holmes believes his biggest fight-to-fight improvements have been his fight IQ. He made good on his second UFC fight, submitting Alen Amedovski with a rear naked choke in just over a minute.
“I’m drilling a lot, seeing all these situations, training so often,” Holmes said. “I am constantly working on, what in my opinion or my coach’s opinion, what I should do in each situation. Having James Krause now to really dissect my fight style and game and help me with certain things like the way I can start throwing my kick where they don’t see it or start setting up the knee. Just different things that help me be a great fighter. I feel like he’s really taken the time to really put that effort into helping me get better as a fighter. As opposed to just teaching a class and teaching everyone the same technique.”
Holmes feels a win over Park would be the biggest of his career to date. Though he believes that will be the case with any win going forward.
“Every single time I go to the next fight is going to be the biggest fight of my career, because the competition is going to continue to get harder. The rankings are going to continue to get higher. We shoot for the stars, so every challenge is going to be harder than the last.”
Holmes enters the fight as a moderate underdog, sitting at +200 in the betting odds as of Tuesday. Holmes said he does not really pay attention to the betting line on his fights and figures that he’ll always be the underdog given his status as the “newest guy.” The underdog label is one he embraces.
“Everybody I’m going to fight will have a crazy amount of experience over me,” he said. “No, I really could care less. I actually appreciate being the underdog. When I watch anime or shows, my eyes go toward that underdog and I start liking that character more than the other character, so it’s totally fine with me.”
Holmes does not have a prediction for how the fight ends outside of him finishing Park.
“Me and my coaches have put a lot time into making sure we’re a step ahead this entire process. Just making sure we finish this guy. Finish him anyway is what I’m looking for here. Any second, anyway, just look for me to take him out. I’ve got to prove I can put him away to keep myself going where I feel like I’m destined to be.”
The UFC Vegas event is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday. The card will be broadcast on ESPN+.
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