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UFC fighter Kevin Holland says he used rear-naked choke to subdue Houston restaurant shooter

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UFC's Holland says he used MMA move to subdue gunman (1:54)

UFC fighter Kevin Holland details how he subdued a gunman at a Houston restaurant. (1:54)

UFC fighter Kevin Holland says he helped apprehend a man who shot a gun off at a Houston restaurant Monday night.

Holland told ESPN on Tuesday that he was eating sushi with his friend, Patrick Robinson, when he heard a loud bang and saw people running away in fear. Holland said he and Robinson saw another man try to wrestle the gun away from the shooter, so Holland and Robinson approached to help disarm the man and detain him until police arrived.

"I wouldn't tell the next person to do it unless they're seriously trained for that type of situation," Holland said. "Besides doing cage fighting, I train self-defense first and foremost. For me, that was the best way to defend myself at the moment. Plus, I like Batman."

A Houston Police Department spokesman told ESPN that it is against policy to release the names of witnesses, so police could not confirm Holland's involvement. But Holland's account lines up with what the police have described.

According to a Houston PD spokesman, the suspect fired a gun into the air at the restaurant inside the Highland Village shopping center at around 11:30 p.m. Monday. After the shot went off, the person sitting next to the gunman in the restaurant grabbed his hand, pointed the gun away and attempted to subdue him as officers were en route.

The suspected gunman has been identified as 24-year-old Jesus Samaniego, according to police. He faces charges of deadly conduct and unlawfully carrying a weapon

Holland said he didn't know a shot had been fired until he saw people running away.

"I was facing one way and then we he heard a big, loud bang," Holland said. "I thought it was a champagne bottle popping, because the people behind us were having a birthday party. I go to look around and I see people running like they had the look of death on [their] face, like super worried."

Holland said he and Robinson "got low" and ducked for cover, then looked in the direction of the shot. Holland said he saw the gunman and the man who grabbed his arm. The gun, at that point, was facing toward Holland, Robinson and other patrons, Holland said. Rather than run away, Holland said he and Robinson went around the other side. Holland said he picked up a chair to hit the gunman, but couldn't tell who the gunman was and who was the good Samaritan, because they were wrestling on the ground.

Holland noticed the man on the bottom of the skirmish was the one holding the gun. He said he and Robinson helped pry the gun out of his hand. Holland said he then took the man into his lap, wrapped his legs around his legs and put him in a rear-naked choke submission hold.

"As soon as he was [asleep], I let go of the choke, slid out on top, got full mount, stretched the arms out so he couldn't reach for anything," Holland said.

Holland said he and Robinson grabbed the man's backpack and tossed it to the side and made sure the gun was not within reach. The police arrived shortly after, he said.

"You see it on the news, or you see it on TV or the movies and stuff, but you never see it actually in life, and it is crazy that nobody got hurt," Robinson told ABC 13 in Houston.

Holland said growing up in a rough area of Riverside, California, he was always told that if an attacker has a knife, go away from the knife. If an attacker has a gun, go toward the gun. But he said he has been training in self-defense, kung fu and now MMA for most of his life, so he would not recommend most people take that approach.

"It seemed like the safer route to go to it instead of going away from it," Holland said.

Holland is no stranger to these types of situations. The Texas resident says he chased down his vehicle and helped detain a suspected robber last October, just two days after a UFC fight. Holland said he's not sure how these circumstances keep happening to him.

"I have no idea," he said. "I would like to end up in less situations, to be honest with you. I was just talking with my people about that not too long ago. I'm always into some B.S., you know what I mean?"

Holland, 29, is a popular UFC fighter who just made his welterweight debut by beating Alex Oliveira at UFC 272 on March 5 in Las Vegas. He has just two losses in his past nine fights and tied the record for most UFC wins (5) in a single calendar year in 2020.