Brian Kelleher expects to finish Domingo Pilarte and call for a spot on the MSG card, eyes Sean O’Malley as future opponent

By Cole Shelton - August 18, 2021

BBrian Kelleher wasn’t too surprised he is fighting Domingo Pilarte at UFC Vegas 34.

Brian Kelleher

After Kelleher lost a decision to Ricky Simon at UFC 258, he knew he would have to fight someone below him in the rankings. That is exactly what is happening as he is facing Pilarte, which is a rebooking as the two were supposed to fight one another at UFC 230 back in 2018.

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“It was kind of a surprise but I am coming off a loss and the UFC tends to do that. When you are coming off a loss they give you someone a little bit lower in the ranks,” Brian Kelleher said on Just Scrap Radio on “It somewhat makes sense as we were matched up in the past and an injury pulled the fight for us. He has been out for a while, but I like the matchup for me. The UFC likes my style, they like me as a fighter and it’s a good stylistic matchup for myself.”

Entering the fight, Kelleher knows there is pressure on him to get back into the win column. “Boom” says he always fights better after a loss and he expects that to be the case here at UFC Vegas 34.

“It gives me this my chip on my shoulder. Losing is a beautiful thing in retrospect. It sucks when it happens but what you see come from it is a whole different animal,” Kelleher said. “It motivates me, it fires me up and it makes me want to train harder and perform better.”

Against Pilarte, Brian Kelleher knows closing the distance will be the biggest key as Pilarte will have a sizeable 10-inch reach advantage. However, Kelleher believes he will be able to close the distance and get inside. If Kelleher does get inside, the 34-year-old believes he will eventually find the stoppage.

“I’m either TKO’ing or KO’ing guys or submitting guys, I’m not much of a decision fighter. Every once in a while it does happen. But, I always see a finish, I look for the kill,” Kelleher said. “The way I fight, once I get hit a little, I come alive and get more and more aggressive as the fights goes on. I want to put pressure on and I want to leave the cage knowing I left everything in there.”

If Kelleher does get his hand raised on Saturday against Pilarte, he says he will call out an opponent. However, the main thing the New York native wants is to be on the Madison Square Garden card in November. But, one fight that he makes clear he still wants is the Sean O’Malley scrap.

“If I get another win, the UFC knows I’m still here and still belong. I lose to a lot of the better guys in the division, tough fights. I’m willing to fight anyone. I get a big finish here, I call out a name the UFC likes, and usually, you get what you ask for… Of course, I want the O’Malley fight, like everyone else in the bantamweight division. If he lost that fight, I think I had a better shot as they will give him a step up, but hey if I go out and get a finish and call for O’Malley in MSG in November, that would be great. But, what I’m calling for, for sure is to fight in New York on the MSG card in November.”

Who do you think will win, Brian Kelleher or Domingo Pilarte?

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