UFC Orlando Results: Brian Kelleher Puts on Performance of His Career Against Renan Barao

Brian Kelleher
Credit: Keith Mills/Sherdog.com

Brian Kelleher put on a career defining performance against former UFC bantamweight champ Renan Barao at UFC Orlando.

In the featured fight of the UFC on FOX 28 prelims Saturday, former bantamweight champion Renan Barao was desperately in need of a win. Barao had hit a considerable slump since losing his title to T.J. Dillashaw in a shock upset back in 2015. After losing the rematch against Dillashaw, Barao was 1-2, a stretch made worse by struggles to make weight. After a failed experiment at featherweight, Barao was back at bantamweight on Saturday, taking on Brian Kelleher. ‘Boom’ had been the feelgood story of 2017, going from unknown to UFC fan fave overnight.

Kelleher came out and brought the fight to the former champion right out of the gate. Barao blocked a head kick, while Kelleher, clearly aware of T.J. Dillashaw’s past efforts against ‘The Baron,’ changed stances early and often. Barao began to attack the lead leg of Kelleher with kicks, and by the third one, ‘Boom’ was stumbling. Kelleher then landed a clean right by the ear of Barao off a leg kick. That led to a clinch along the fence, with Kelleher trying and failing to secure the takedown. Another right back in the open, however, hurt Barao. He clinched to buy some recovery time; ‘Boom’ reversed position. They’d make it out of the round, with Kelleher perhaps having the advantage thanks to those right hands.

Almost immediately, the pair were in a grappling exchange against the fence in round two. It didn’t last long, and in the middle Barao and Kelleher exchanged leg kicks before Kelleher shot in for a takedown. He drove Barao to the fence, putting his weight on the former champ, trying to wear him down. Staying with the attempt, he was able to take Barao down, but ‘The Baron’ was quickly back to his feet in a whizzer. The ref eventually broke the pair up, and they began trading punches back in the middle of the cage. Kelleher then looked to repeat his earlier takedown success, only the be reversed. With ten seconds remaining in the frame, ref Big Dan broke them apart once more, which took things to the third.

Renan Barao attempted a flying knee early in round three that was nowhere near landing. Kelleher then pressed forward, just grazing the ex-champ with a spinning back fist. Kelleher shot for a takedown only for Barao to fend it off. Another spinning back fist followed by a right forced Barao to retreat, and Kelleher seemed to be picking up the pace. Barao looked to be tiring, but he was still able to fire off some knees in the clinch. ‘Boom’ connected with an uppercut, and drove Barao into the cage.

Then, a final onslaught by Brian ‘Boom’ Kelleher. Kelleher began landing at will with uppercuts, working his jab, and beating up Barao. The former champion was covering up, but taking more and more punishment, unable to fire back. Ref Big Dan was taking a close look at the action, but Barao’s toughness kept him in it. With the crowd roaring, Kelleher pressed for the finish, but it was just out of reach. Still, he finished strong and picked up the biggest win of his career with all three judges scoring it in his favor.

Brian Kelleher def. Renan Barao by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here