Brian Kelleher’s fight with Kevin Croom at UFC Vegas 46 was one of several bouts that came together at the last moment.
“Boom” had originally been scheduled to face Saidyokub Kakhramonov. When the Uzbek fighter was forced to withdraw, Croom stepped in — fighting for the first time since a February 2021 loss to Alex “Bruce Leeroy” Caceres.
Kelleher had last fought in August, picking up a win over Domingo Pilarte. That victory had come in his regular home at bantamweight; the short-notice nature of Saturday’s match-up with Croom necessitated the fight be contested at 145lbs instead.
It was Brian “Boom” Kelleher opening things up with a front kick on Saturday; he then circled on the outside, while Croom pressed forward. Croom held a noticeable size advantage, not surprisingly with the fight coming up a division for Kelleher. That said, a right hand from Kelleher dropped Croom about a minute and a half in, sitting him down. Croom popped right back up, but the smaller man had proved a point when it came to power.
The second half of the round saw Kelleher pressing forward, switching stances to work his way inside. Croom did find success on the feet care of his reach, with a number of 1-2s and left hands sneaking through. None, however, had the power behind them that Kelleher had shown. He’d land another power shot late in the frame, off a spinning back fist, though this one didn’t drop Croom — but Kelleher did close out the round with a takedown.
Croom was aggressive in the opening minute plus of round two, backing Kelleher up and forcing him to cover up. Strikes were capped off by a high kick, but Kelleher didn’t seem to take much damage while under fire. When they moved back to center, Croom unleashed a few leg kicks, then fired off a combo — and in terms of output, he appeared to be pulling away.
Just past the three minute mark in the second, Croom fired a knee, and an elbow which cut Kelleher as “Boom” ripped to the body. Despite that, it was Kelleher getting in the driver’s seat, getting Croom to his back. Just as he did in round one, Kelleher finished the frame on top and in control.
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Kelleher opened round three with an early takedown, a marked deviation from the game plan in the opening two rounds. He spent a solid minute or so in control; as Croom escaped up, Kelleher took him right back down. Guillotine and D’arce choke attempts would punctuate the round for Kelleher, who cruised to the final bell.
No real surprise as to the winner in the end — while Croom relied on his striking above all else, Brian Kelleher put his full arsenal on display Saturday.
Official Result: Brian Kelleher def. Kevin Croom by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)