If you were a 36-year-old welterweight with devastating knockout power in both hands, how would you want to spend the last good years of your fighting career?

Well, if you’re Colorado’s Chris “The Hammer” Holland, fighting the toughest competition you can find is the answer.

The Factory X Muay Thai product is set to headline Ring of Fire 43 on June 2 from the 1st Bank Center in Broomfield, Colo. Standing in his way will be UFC, Pride and Strikeforce veteran Phil Baroni.

Holland (R) connects with a right hand (Paul Kincaid/Sanskrit Photography)

“It’s a dream come true,” Holland told The MMA Corner about his match-up with the veteran. “I think the path I took—fighting the best competition in the state—has allowed me to make this leap in competition. It’s a huge step, but I can’t be more excited for that.”

Holland may not be a household name in the MMA community, but just ask his last two victims, Josh Cavan and Robert Martinez, about the dynamite in his fists. The fighter has a request of his more experienced foe.

“I don’t want Baroni to take me lightly,” Holland said. “I want him to bring his ‘A’ game, because I’m bringing mine. I want no excuses.”

Baroni’s conditioning has been an issue in the past, and it’s something that Holland believes he can take advantage of. However, he reiterated his hope that it won’t be factor.

“I’m going to wear him out and then go for the kill,” declared Holland. “But I hope he has fixed that cardio problem, because I want to face the very best Phil Baroni on June 2.”

With both fighters possessing finishing ability on the feet, does Holland think this fight will ever find its way to the ground?

“No, no,” Holland said with a laugh. “This fight is going to be on the feet, and it’s going to be a dazzler.”

A win over Baroni is sure to put Holland on the map in more places than Colorado. Ring of Fire has helped numerous stars, such as Shane Carwin, Brendan Schaub and Duane Ludwig, get to the UFC. Although Holland feels the UFC may be a little out of reach, he thinks he’ll earn some added attention.

“If I knock out Baroni, that’s got to open some eyes, right?” Holland suggested. “Hopefully Strikeforce, or perhaps Bellator, come calling.”

“A win does a lot for me mentally,” the welterweight explained. “It proves that I can fight with some of the best around. It would give me a lot of confidence and I can’t wait to get in there.”

Holland (L) delivers a right hand (Phil Lambert/The MMA Corner)

Holland’s late-career success can be attributed to his new fight team and the tutelage of Marc Montoya at Factory X Muay Thai/MMA.

“It’s night and day (compared to my old camp),” said Holland. “Not to say anything bad about my past training partners—they’re good friends—but to take the next step I had to make a change. It doesn’t get any better than Factory X and training with UFC-level guys like (Chris) Camozzi, (Chase) Hackett and (Nick) Macias.”

Despite the recent wins, Holland knows that his time is limited in the sport. And unlike some younger fighters, he can’t make a career out of it. Yet, his priorities are in line.

“I have to work full-time,” explained the fighter. “At 36 years old, I don’t have the luxury of moving in with someone and having roommates. I have a daughter, most importantly. I need to have that income for her, and at the level I fight, I can’t live on it.”

If things go his way at Ring of Fire 43, a win over Baroni may let Holland live a little more comfortably.

Chris would like to thank: Feldmanm Nagel Attorneys at Law, Indo Industries, Modern Real Estate: The Devereaux Team, Performance MMA, Dan Dane Consulting, Joe Clark tattoos, Factory X Muay Thai. Follow him on Twitter: @HammerTime528

Top Photo: Chris Holland celebrates (Ring of Fire)

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