If the fight was 15 minutes and 10 seconds, instead of 15 minutes flat, Brian Kelleher likely would have had himself a TKO victory on Saturday night.
While he didn’t get the finish, the Long Island native did score the biggest victory of his career, as he earned a unanimous decision at Orlando’s Amway Center. The judges’ scores were a pair of 30-27s and a 29-28.
“I’m here to say I want that title,” Kelleher said. “I showed my heart. I left it all in the cage.”
Kelleher pushed forward from the outset. He let his hands fly early and often. Sometimes they landed, sometimes they didn’t but Barao was always wary. Barao’s best answer during the fight was to clinch and try to slow Kelleher down.
Barao did an effective enough job with his defense that the fight still seemed a bit up in the air entering the third, but Kelleher left no doubt, as he cranked up the intensity and finished the fight with his offensive onslaught.
The victory improved Kelleher to 19-8, 3-1 in the UFC. Barao (34-6, 1 NC) is now 2-5 dating back to his 2013 title loss to T.J. DIllashaw.