Las Vegas, NV — After over a year away, Brian Kelleher returned to the octagon at UFC 246. Tasked with being the welcoming committee for Contender Series alumni Ode Osbourne, Kelleher knew his job was on the line. Two straight losses and the time away made that clear.
“It’s nice to feel loved again. Because for a while, two losses in a row, my job on the line, had to pull out of a fight due to injury. So it’s been a long road to get back here and to know what this feels like again,” Kelleher told media outlets including Cageside Press following the fight. “That’s the main thing. It was them bringing in a new contender, like ‘who’s here to stay, are we bring the new guy in, or is this guy still good to go?’ And I proved my point.”
Kelleher (20-10) earned the win via a first-round guillotine choke. Notably, Osbourne was forced to tap with his feet. “I knew I had it in, because his hands were stuck in there too, that’s why he tapped with his feet. Because he couldn’t wiggle out. It was either sleep or feet.”
‘Boom’ knew his opponent was a risk taker. He also knew that his own experience would play a role in the fight. “Once I got a hold of him, I felt a big strength difference, and that kind of helped me calm down,” he recalled. “I got him down on the ground, I kept him in position and I knew once I passed guard I was going to get a finish.”
Kelleher knew that Osbourne’s comfort zone was on the feet, “so it’s best to just put your opponent where he’s uncomfortable. So that was my plan.”
As for what his plan is next, Kelleher has a date in mind. “I would like to fight April 18 in Brooklyn [UFC 249]. I think that makes perfect sense,” he said. “Three month’s time, I’m from Long Island, New York, so right in my back yard. That would be great.”
Against who is another matter. “I hate wasting a callout,” he said, before adding that “I would like to fight Sean O’Malley, that guy’s got a lot of hype behind him. I could steal some of that, and we could move on from there. But I know he’s booked in February. So it’s hard to kind of cage that. If he gets a quick win and can rebound, I think we can fight in April.”
Unfortunately for Kelleher, O’Malley’s fight against José Alberto Quiñónez has been moved to March’s UFC 248.
Watch the full UFC 246 post-fight press scrum with Brian Kelleher above!