UFC Vegas 21: Darren Stewart Admits Holland Loss “Stings,” Would Rather Have Been KO’d

What has Darren Stewart brought with him to Las Vegas to help get through all the down time? “A strong mentality. Because this sh*t can break you,” he said ahead of this weekend’s UFC Vegas 21.

Entering a fight during the pandemic for the third time, Stewart has become used to it. Isolating in a hotel. COVID tests. Even the two weeks of quarantine when he returns to the UK. This time out, he’s up against Eryk Anders, who he described during this week’s UFC Vegas 21 virtual media day as a “good opponent,” one who “brings the fight. I like to bring the fight as well. It’s what you’re meant to do in this game, fight.”

Stewart (12-6, 1NC) had some dips and valleys last year, he noted. “Got my first submission win in the UFC, great. Then the split decision with Kevin [Holland], a bit of a headache. It was ups and downs in 2020.”

Holland was Fighter of the Year for many in 2020. “It does sting a bit,” Stewart admitted. When the pair battled to a split decision in September, Stewart thought he’d done enough to win.

In regards to the loss, Stewart noted the obstacles he had to overcome just to prepare for the fight. “The lockdown is different in the UK. There’s a couple gyms that are open that we can use, under the guidelines professional fighters can use it, but still it’s not the same,” he explained. “So most of the time I’m not in the gym, I’m out on the road training, I’m out in the park training. Then you’ve got to make weight, and do that for eight to ten weeks. Then you’ve got to go on a flight for like ten hours.”

The lockdown, he noted, is all about what you put into it. Which makes the letdown of a loss that much greater. “You think you’re going to win, and you’re not. It’s draining.”

While the length of the lockdown and hurdles it has presented are no doubt frustrating, Stewart also noted that the outcome itself, a split decision, was difficult to accept. “That fight was fun as well. You’re having fun, enjoying yourself thinking ‘this is good.’ [Then] your hand don’t get raised,” he stated. “It’s like ‘awww man.’ It’s horrible. I’d rather he knocked me out than thinking you won, and your hand don’t get raised.”

Watch the full UFC Vegas 21 virtual media day scrum with Darren Stewart above. The event takes place this Saturday, March 13 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.