Brian Kelleher vs. John Lineker Targeted for UFC 224 in Rio

Brian Kelleher
Brian Kelleher (blue glove tape) Credit: Keith Mills

Brian ‘Boom’ Kelleher asked for John Lineker, and the UFC has delivered.

Here comes the ‘Boom.’ Brian Kelleher put on the performance of his career against former UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao at UFC Orlando. After that bout, he called out none other than John Lineker. Once again proving that it pays to call your shot, Kelleher has in fact been paired up with the dangerous striker. Combate was first to report the news. The fight will go down June 9 at UFC 224.

For Brian Kelleher, it’s another big name fight in one of the most surprising underdog stories the UFC has seen in years. Not all that long ago, Kelleher was a virtual unknown on the regional scene, trying to win tickets to UFC 205 from Ariel Helwani’s The MMA Hour. Seven months later, Iuri Alcântara found himself forced to tap to Kelleher’s guillotine. Kelleher had taken the fight on short notice. Coincidentally, that bout took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the site of UFC 224. Three fights later, and Brian Kelleher is 3-1 in the UFC, with the Barao win his biggest to date.

That could change against John Lineker. A win over Lineker (30–8) would likely put the American in title contention. A force to be reckoned with, Lineker has just one loss since 2014: a unanimous decision defeat at UFC 207 against bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw (a non-title affair during Cody Garbrandt’s reign). Other than that, Lineker has been pretty much perfect. 3-1 in his last four fights, Lineker holds wins over Michael McDonald, John Dodson, and Marlon Vera.

UFC 224 takes place on June 9 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil at the Jeunesse Arena. The main event features a women’s bantamweight title fight between champ Amanda Nunes and the returning Raquel Pennington.