UFC ‘isn’t comfortable’ with injury says bantamweight; career on ‘stand still’

UFC's Brian Kelleher has put a pause on competing, but has "hope that things will change."

By: Jack Wannan | 5 months ago
UFC ‘isn’t comfortable’ with injury says bantamweight; career on ‘stand still’
Brian Kelleher says he has put his UFC career on pause, for now at least | IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

UFC bantamweight Brian Kelleher has decided to put his career as a fighter on pause after a mysterious injury forced him out of his last appearance.

Kelleher was expected to be part of last weekend’s UFC Fight Night card from Las Vegas, Nevada. Appearing for the first time in 10 months, Kelleher was matched against five-fight UFC vet Journey Newson. The bout should have provided a chance for Kelleher to snap a two-fight losing streak that he’s currently riding. But after he suffered an undisclosed injury, plans shifted for the show. Newson ended up facing promotional newcomer Marcus McGhee instead, and Kelleher ended up without a fight on Saturday.

Kelleher was ‘ready and willing to compete’

In a recent statement from Kelleher, the UFC vet claimed that his fight being canceled was the promotion’s call.

“Sometimes life takes over and changes your s*** right up on the fly,” Kelleher said in a recent post to social media. “Unfortunately my fight is off due to an injury that the UFC just isn’t comfortable with. I was ready and willing to compete but they’re looking out for the best for both parties. This is truly all I know and I guess I’m willing to risk it all to live the life I desire but perhaps it’s a blessing in disguise as much as it hurts.”

As of Sunday, April 30th, the exact nature of Kelleher’s injury still has not been made public. Even the severity or potential longevity of the situation seems to be getting kept a closely guarded secret. Kelleher’s description of the injury comes off as something he was comfortable competing with, so it seems unlikely to have been a severe impairment to his mobility. But it’s also a setback bad enough that he understands why the UFC forced him out of their lineup.

‘I still have hope that things will change’

Kelleher, who has fought in the UFC since 2017, stated that he is hitting the brakes on his career as a fighter for now at least.

“With that said fighting for now will be on a stand still upon further review,” he said. “It’s been amazing to chase my dream down in this life and get to the pinnacle of fighting and compete in the best organization in the world. I still have hope that things will change and I can continue to do what I was born to do but only the future knows. Thank you to everybody who has shown me love along the way. I love you. BOOM.”

The 36-year-old has been incredibly active since making his promotional debut at UFC 212. Despite only being out of the cage for 10 months, last weekend was set to end only the second-longest absence from UFC competition for Kelleher. His previous break from fighting, which could be surpassed by this current stint, saw him miss all of 2019.

Kelleher fought three times in 2022, starting the year off with a win over Kevin Croom before suffering submission losses to Umar Nurmagomedov and Mario Bautista.

What’s next for Kelleher?

It’s hard to tell whether what will happen with Kelleher next.

Kelleher hinted at retiring on fight night, posting a photo of MMA gloves in his washroom. The action of laying a pair of gloves down is synonymous with the end of a fighter’s career.

But two days earlier, a Tweet from Kelleher made it sound like he is not thinking of retirement. “UFC is my life and all that I know. It’s been an amazing journey. I won’t say goodbye just yet but hopefully see ya later,” he said after announcing that he wouldn’t be fighting Newson after all.

Even if Kelleher is stepping away from competing, “Boom” wants people to know that he will not be gone from the scene. “I plan on staying involved in the sport in many ways so if anybody has some ideas or opportunities please reach out,” he said in the final line of his Instagram Story post.

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About the author
Jack Wannan
Jack Wannan

Jack Wannan is a reporter for Bloody Elbow. He joined the site in 2023 after previously writing for MMA-Prospects.com and Knockdown News. He is currently in the process of earning a bachelor's degree in journalism at Toronto Metropolitan University.

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