Of the “UFC jitters,” a pesky collection of nerves that often begins in the brain and metaphorically moves toward the stomach of mixed martial artists in their first UFC fight, Brian Kelleher planned to not let them take that winding path through his body.
That was before his bantamweight fight against Brazilian Iuri Alcantara in Rio de Janeiro at UFC 212 on Saturday night, of course.
During the fight, he barely had time to let them develop as Alcantara pushed the pace immediately. Kelleher was knocked down once but got right back up.
That did not deter Kelleher, a 30-year-old fighter from Selden. As quickly as Alcantara, the No. 13 ranked bantamweight in the UFC, got a takedown on Kelleher, Kelleher turned it into a submission victory.
Alcantara hit a double-leg takedown and held onto Kelleher’s left leg as he scrambled to get back up and stay off his back against the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt with 14 career submissions. Kelleher was able to use that leverage to quickly capitalize on Alcantara’s exposed neck and lock in the guillotine choke 1:48 in to the first round.
“That’s something I hit when I’m scrambling,” Kelleher said. “I knew it was tight, but I didn’t know he was gonna tap.”
Alcantara tapped quickly and as soon as Kelleher (17-7) felt it, he made sure to inform the referee that his opponent gave up.
“I just took No. 13 out,” an excited Kelleher said during his post-fight interview inside the Octagon. “I want a top-10 guy. I don’t want this slow pace. Feed me to the sharks. I’m ready!”
It was the seventh straight win for Kelleher. It was the first time Alcantara (34-8, 10-5 UFC with 1 no contest) was submitted since 2009.
The crowd in Brazil offered the expected boos and negative reaction to seeing their hometown guy defeated by Kelleher. He didn’t mind.
“Hey! Sean Shelby, Dana White! 50 Gs!,” Kelleher yelled, referencing a potential fight bonus for his performance. “Change my life!
“I came to Brazil and I took out your hometown boy.”