Brian Kelleher is excited to fight Umar Nurmagomedov at UFC 272, who is the cousin of Khabib.
Kelleher picked up a decision win over Kevin Croom back in January and quickly jumped at the chance to return not even three months later against Nurmagomedov. Part of the reason why he took the fight is due to the fact it will be at featherweight.
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“For me, opportunities come and I’m going to take them. I’m healthy, coming off two wins and momentum is rolling,” Kelleher said to Just Scrap Radio on BJPENN.com. “Why not keep active? I love to fight a guy who is undefeated, has a ton of hype with the last name that he has, and has to live up to it. I think it’s a big fight for me and it’s a win-win situation, I get to fight in front of fans again which is awesome.”
Why Kelleher is excited about this fight is due to the fact he’s fighting a highly-touted / undefeated prospect and is back in front of fans. He also knows this is a big fight as Umar is Khabib’s cousin so if he can beat him it would be massive for his career.
“I’m not looking at him like he is just like Khabib. He’s not the same guy, nobody is Khabib,” Kelleher said. “Coming into this fight, I feel very confident I can shut him down and take his 0 and that’s what I’m here to do.”
Although Brian Kelleher is excited about the fight, he knows he has his hands full at UFC 272. He’s well-aware that Nurmagomedov is a great wrestler, but he too is known for his wrestling and doesn’t rule out him being the one to initiate the grappling.
Along with possibly wrestling Nurmagomedov, Kelleher believes he can make this a dirty boxing fight which will frustrate the undefeated fighter. If he can do that, he’s confident the finish will come.
“I could see where he is comfortable, he likes the kicking range but he likes to fight when it’s not a high-volume scrap,” Kelleher said. “A guy like me likes forward pressure and land those heavy shots. Just get inside and just mix in my boxing and wrestling. We haven’t seen this guy get taken down and be on his back and I believe I can take anybody down…
“Of course, I’m always looking for the finish. Going the distance is good for the experience and getting the rounds in, it never hurts to go the distance,” Kelleher later added. “But, the name of the game is to hit you, hurt you and get you out of there quickly. I see myself winning this fight with aggression, just more will to win the fight.”
Should Kelleher get the stoppage win and hand Nurmagomedov his first loss, he believes that could get him a big name like Sean O’Malley or a ranked opponent. Regardless of what’s next, the plan for Kelleher is to be as active as possible this year.
“I love that I started strong in January and I’m getting another fight against a big name, an undefeated guy in March. It sets me up to get two or three more in this year, my goal is to as long as I’m healthy to jump on all opportunities,” Kelleher concluded.
Do you think Brian Kelleher will beat Umar Nurmagomedov at UFC 272?