UFC On The Prelims: One Time For The Veterans

On The Prelims is a column that focuses on standout performances from the undercard of a top MMA event every week.

I’ll start with an honest truth: there wasn’t much to look at on the prelims this week. UFC made their return on Saturday night, but it might have been in less grand fashion than they had hoped. Their show suffered massive changes throughout the past week or so, as COVID-19 protocols, injuries and everything else in-between forced the show to lose many fights. In the end, the card went on with 10 bouts in total and just four prelims.

With that being said, there are still things to look at for this card. In this week’s episode of “On The Prelims,” we’re tipping the cap to two experienced fighters who showed their everlasting skills early on the card of UFC’s recent “Fight Night” show.

Up 10 Pounds, Kelleher Is Still Kelleher

Brian Kelleher almost found himself as one of the fighters that would not step in the cage this week. After previously targeted opponent Saidyokub Kakhramonov pulled out of their fight, it seemed for a moment like there would be no fight for him. They eventually found someone for him, but with a catch.

Kelleher was matched against Kevin Croom, who fights up a weight class at featherweight. While this change likely provided a less stressful weight cut for Kelleher, it threw him into a matchup where he was dealing with a larger opponent who was more well suited for the division. Nonetheless, Kelleher pulled off a win in his fight.

Kelleher succeeded with striking to start, then worked on his grappling in the second and third rounds. It was overall a great performance from the experienced bantamweight. Kelleher has been busy during the pandemic, having taken six fights now since May 2020. While he has seen losses and canceled bouts in that time, his strong showings during that timeframe have shown he’s a veteran with real skills.

‘The McGee Special’ On Full Display

Court McGee has fought 10 times since the start of 2016. How many finishes, whether it be win or loss, has he picked up since then? One. Some might say this makes him a less interesting fighter than others, but that might not be fair. There’s something you have to appreciate about McGee’s tiring and suffocating style against opponents.

That game plan was certainly on display yet again on Saturday night when he took on Ramiz Brahimaj. McGee took Brahimaj down numerous times in the fight. He made great use of these takedowns – he certainly didn’t just lay there after. Instead, he was using those takedowns to either take control time or look for submissions. These attempts slowly secured McGee a solid lead.

McGee almost broke his nine-fight streak of decisions late in the first round, as he dropped Brahimaj with a punch. Some online considered Brahimaj to be “saved by the bell,” as the round concluded right after the knockdown.

McGee’s style isn’t going to give him “Fight of the Night” or “Performance of the Night” awards. However, it will dominate and demoralize opponents. And along the way, it gives him a solid lead in a fight and prevents him from a potential bad result due to judges feeling a little confused after watching a closer fight.

At the age of 37 years old and now over 30 fights deep into his UFC career, McGee has figured out a game plan that isn’t incredibly innovative but will never stop being a problem for some fighters. And on top of that, it works for his mentality, which he said after the fight is that he “doesn’t like to hurt people.” This one’s for you, McGee.

A full report on Saturday’s UFC “Fight Night” card can be read here. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s