The main card of UFC 224 features an interesting bantamweight fight as unranked Brian ‘Boom’ Kelleher (19-8 MMA, 3-1 UFC) takes on #6 ranked seasoned veteran John ‘Hands of stone’ Linekar.
What made UFC give Kelleher this massive push is his explosive style of fighting which earned him his nickname ‘Boom’ and his confidence to fight the best fighters in the world. However, the road to UFC wasn’t an easy one for Kelleher. With his potential in considerations, he had a mediocre record of 10-7 in April 2014. Kelleher was approaching his 28th birthday and knew he needed to do something quickly in order to fulfill his dreams.
“It’s also about how old I was,” Kelleher said”. I was dating a girl who was a few years older than me and she wanted to settle down and have a family. And me, I wasn’t ready. I wanted to pursue my dream still. I never gave up. Like I said, at 10-7, you’ve got to start thinking, ‘Is this for me? Am I going to make it? I don’t know. Should I get a full-time job?’ So I was going through stages where I was second-guessing myself as far as the UFC goes and if I was going to become what I believed I could.”
Kelleher then had a dream comeback winning next six fights against current UFC fighters like Andre Soukamthath and Julio Arce before signing with the UFC.
“I just hit a switch and said, ‘I’m going to go full force from here on out,’ ” Kelleher said. “I’m going to fight the best guys I can, all the guys who are being talked about as the next big thing and see what I can do. If I could take those guys out and go on a streak, it was probably my only chance to get in.”
Kelleher had a stern test ahead of him on his debut as he had to face then ranked UFC veteran luri Alcantara on short notice against the infamous hostile crowd at UFC 212 in June 2017. Kelleher however didn’t remain in this shell and finished Alcantara at 0:48 in the first round to stamp his authority. He feels this experience will help him as he returns to Rio.
“One-hundred percent, it definitely helps,” Kelleher said. “When I first went there, it was the unexpected. You don’t know what’s to come. You don’t know how crazy it really is going to be. I’d heard things about it, but until you live in that moment, you really don’t know what it’s like.
“For me, I look back and think it’s a beautiful experience to have had, especially now, going into it again on a bigger platform on pay-per-view. My last fight was on TV on Fox, so I got a little bit of the cameras in my face feel. That was all good experience leading up to this. I do really well under pressure and I thrive in enemy territory, as we’ve seen, so I think it’s a good thing for me [fighting in Brazil] in the end.”
A win against Linekar would cement Kelleher’s place in the top 10.