Bellator 281’s Denise Kielholtz: Belt First, Avenging Loss to Velasquez Comes Second


Former women’s flyweight title challenger and Bellator kickboxing champ Denise Kielholtz looks to bounce back against Kana Watanabe against Bellator 281 this Friday.

Kielholtz (6-3) fell just short against Juliana Velasquez last year, coming out on the wrong side of a split decision. She does have revenge on her mind — but before avenging her loss, it’s the title she’s focused on, which has since changed hands and is now held by Liz Carmouche.

“You know, first I had Velasquez, because I thought that she was the champion. But now we have a new champion, and the first thing that’s on my mind is to be a champion in two divisions, or in two different sports,” the decorated kickboxer told Cageside Press during this week’s Bellator 281 media day. “So that’s my main goal.”

After that goal is accomplished, continued Kielholtz, “then Velasquez is the second one [goal]. But my first, main goal is my belt.”

To get to that championship opportunity, the Dutch 33-year old first has to get through Japan’s Watanabe. Watanabe is 2-1 inside the Bellator cage, but fell to Carmouche in her last outing — and in MMA, you’re only as good as your last performance. Even with other fighters it seems.

“If I have to be honest, when I saw her last fight, I was not really impressed by the last fight she fought,” admitted Kielholtz. “But that’s why I know she comes here to prove herself, and be the best version of herself. So I just focus on a Kana Watanabe that will be her best version of herself against me.”

That said, added Kielholtz, “I am prepared for everything.”

Watch the full Belltor 281 media day appearance from Denise Kielholtz above. Kielholtz faces Kana Watanabe in a women’s flyweight contest this Friday, May 13, 2022 as part of Bellator 281 at the SSE Arena, Wembley in London, England.


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