Jay R. Jordan
Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight Kevin Holland was apparently at the right place at the right time Monday night during a dinner in Houston.
Holland and three others, including friend and mixed martial artist Patrick Robinson, were dining a RA Sushi in the 3900 block of Westheimer Road around 11:30 p.m. to kick off a night of revelry in the Bayou City when a man sitting at the restaurant’s bar pulled a gun and fired a shot into the air, according to Houston police. There were about 40 to 50 people in the restaurant at the time, police estimated, most of whom ducked and ran for cover—except for Holland, Robinson and another man who charged at the gunman, disarmed him and tackled him to the ground.
No one was injured in the gunfire, although a woman who was with Holland scraped her hand while running for cover to the kitchen. Police eventually responded and put the gunman in handcuffs. On Tuesday, HPD identified the man as 24-year-old Jesus Edrai Cardiel Samaniego. He faces charges of deadly conduct and unlawfully carrying a weapon.
“We pretty much knew it was a gunshot, because we had just came from the shooting range the other week,” Robinson said Monday night. “We were like, ‘that’s a gun.’ We quickly hopped on it, got to the shooter and got him down. He had a backpack on him. We got the backpack away from him, because we didn’t know what was in the backpack.”
Holland declined to speak to media Monday night and was not immediately available for an interview Tuesday. His involvement was confirmed through a UFC spokesperson. The 29-year-old Holland, who trains in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, has fought in the UFC for the past four years, going 9-4, including being featured twice in the main event. Holland last fought on March 5, knocking out Alex Oliveira at UFC 272.
While he’s been relatively quiet about the encounter, he gave a nod to the incident on Twitter while promoting his merchandise that says “I’m ok.” In the tweet, he tagged the Houston Police Department’s official Twitter account.
Houston police Sgt. Ricardo Salas said the men’s quick thinking could have saved lives. In an interview the night of the shooting, Salas did not know why the man pulled the gun and fired in the first place.
“If it wasn’t for the quick thinking of a Good Samaritan taking that gun away, who would have known what could have happened?” Salas said. “Multiple people could have been injured out here. We’re very thankful that the citizen helped us out, knew there was something going on and took quick action to stop anyone from getting injured.”
Robinson, who also trains in DFW, said they continued the night even after the violent ordeal.
“It’s time to turn up,” Robinson said. “You know Houston.”
It turns out this wasn’t Holland’s first stab at vigilantism. In October, he helped chase down a person accused of stealing a car in Las Vegas, according to Milan Ordoñez of Bloody Elbow.
Chron reporter Matt Young contributed to this report.
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