From his own perspective, Brian Kelleher considered himself one of many in the fight game. He saw himself as just another fighter. He had a winning record at 10-7 but he felt little split him apart from the millions of other fighters around the world.
Kelleher lost to Andy Main in 90 seconds in 2014, he lost four of his last five, furthering the feeling he wasn’t a standout.
In the four years following his 90-second loss, Kelleher has gone 9-1 (3-1 in the UFC). On May 12 at UFC 224, he will be fighting number six ranked John Lineker in his biggest bout to date.
Kelleher recently wrote on Twitter:
I was down and out. record of 10-7 just another pro fighter. Got a full time job was dating a girl who doubted it all. I told myself no more selling myself short. No more losing if I wanna make my dream happen To be in the ufc. I won 7 straight all prospects now look. #believe
— Brian Kelleher (@brianboom135) March 9, 2018
In the lead-up to his 28th birthday, Brian decided he needed to push to become something more than he was (via Yahoo! Sports):
“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.”
“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.”
Following what he described as a “come to Jesus” meeting with himself – he bounced off six straight wins. This led to him being called in as a late replacement to fight Iuri Alcantara on short notice. He finished the Brazilian in less than two minutes, making a huge statement in the process.
His emphatic win leads him to believe that he can rattle off another win when he squares off with John Lineker in Brazil.
“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.”
Should Brian be victorious once again – he will be ranked. This would then put him in contention amongst the elite of his division.
How do you see Brian Kelleher performing against John Lineker?