Richard Kiely: the welterweight division doesn’t know what’s going to hit it

They say MMA retirements never last, and Richard Kiely is no exception. The larger than life SBG fighter will return to the cage on Saturday 23rd February at the upcoming Bellator 217 card in the 3 Arena, Dublin. Kiely is set to face Frenchman Mickael Bucher, or “Mickey Butcher” as Kiely has dubbed him when he joined the SevereMMA podcast, in what will be his Bellator promotional debut.

The former “Face of BAMMA” quickly rose to prominence on the European MMA scene in 2017, making a name for himself with his brash personality, and after just two professional victories, saw himself fighting for a BAMMA welterweight title. If you thought Kiely was going to take a different approach after signing with Bellator, think again, as the self-proclaimed “Face of Bellator” promises to make a statement, and is putting the Bellator welterweight division on notice.

“I keep saying that the welterweight division doesn’t know what’s going to hit it. It was the same with the BAMMA welterweight division; they hadn’t got a clue what hit it. It’s just going to be the exact same thing on a bigger scale now.”, Kiely told Severe MMA’s Seán Sheehan.

Despite suffering a submission loss to Alex Lohore in his last outing, Kiely isn’t at all concerned about being stereotyped as a kickboxer and feels that his brief period of retirement has helped him to round out his skillset.

“Listen, I’ve been out for the best part of a year where all I was focusing on was my ground game; jiu-jitsu and grappling. So, I’ve absolutely no concern,” Kiely explained. “That kneebar wasn’t even on. It was an injury that defeated me. It wasn’t Alex Lohore’s jiu-jitsu.”

In preparation for Mickael Bucher, Kiely journeyed to Iceland with his SBG Ireland teammates for a training camp which he described as “proper Rocky 4 stuff”. “It was hugely beneficial. The training itself was PPV. We had UFC fighters, we had Bellator fighters, we had Cage Warriors champions all on the mat. There were no easy rounds.”

And the Dubliner is confident that he is well-prepared for Bucher. “I’m going in there to make a statement. That’s not fighter speak. I’m literally going to dismantle this guy. This chap’s chin is getting volleyed into the nosebleeds.”

Kiely already has his sights set on the rest of the Bellator welterweight division and is quick to make that known. “I’m confident that I’m one of the best, if not the best striker in Bellator. Definitely in the welterweight division.”, Kiely confidently stated. “They’re going to see very quickly the level I should be matched at.”

The Dubliner also shared his take on this weekend’s fight between Michael Venom Page and Paul Daley, and what it takes to beat MVP. “I think a wrestler would have the best chance, but a wrestler will even have difficulty with him because he’s like a fly; he has erratic rhythm. It’s like trying to catch a fly; you can’t catch a fly because it has no rhythm. You don’t know where it’s going to be next. There’s no system.”, Kiely explained.

“If I was fighting him (MVP), I’m familiar with that style. I’d have erratic rhythm as well while cutting off the cage. Once you can cut off the cage, then you can start landing your strikes. But Paul Daley is a plodder, he won’t be able to deal with that erratic rhythm because he’s not used to it.”

Kiely also believes that a fight against Terry Brazier is an inevitability. “There’s too much history there for that fight not to happen”.

“He’s one-dimensional and I really think it would be an easy fight for me”, Kiely went on to say.

Before pursuing his next opponent though, the SBG Ireland fighter must overcome the challenge in front of him at Bellator 217. As you might expect, Kiely is confident in his prediction when asked by Sheehan. “It will be a head shot. He’s open for head shots. I’m going to say a head kick”.

“I’m going to open up his head and then once he’s there I’ll select my shot. Whatever shot presents itself, I’ll take it, but he’s very open to a head shot. If he does listen to this and he covers his head, well then he’s going to get a body shot. And if it goes to the ground, I’ll submit him. I actually wouldn’t mind once I knock him out, before the ref steps in, when he’s knocked on the ground I’m going to slap on a rear naked choke just for the craic”.

The Bellator welterweight roster have been put on notice, at least verbally for now. It remains to be seen if the “The Face of Bellator” will arrive on the 23rd February in the 3 Arena. Only time will tell.

Check out the full interview with Richard below

Andy is a multimedia reporter, interviewer, writer, with a strong focus on Irish MMA. Co-host of The Auld Triangle podcast. Follow Andy on Twitter (@andyste123) and Instagram (@andystevensonMMA).

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