Music has been a part of Brian “Boom” Kelleher’s life long before he made it to the UFC. It started when he was a kid, his dad played guitar and sang and his grandpa played the trumpet in an orchestra group. Kelleher would sing along with his family and has always enjoyed the different emotions it brings to depending on the song and time it’s played.
“I was always singing as a kid and always really into music and touched by music even with the different emotions that it can bring whether it getting you amped for training or giving you the chills because it’s such a different song.”
Unlike his father and grandfather, Brian Kelleher wasn’t meant to play an instrument. He struggled to read music and ended up leaving the band in school. However, his love for music never wavered as he began writing and singing his own lyrics.
“Since I was like 18, I got into writing music a little bit, just got into a little hobby of that, I always found peace in doing that, using my brain to get creative and work on different lyrics. I would just kind of have fun with rapping and singing and just making my own stuff, it was jus something I took on as a hobby.”
Kelleher still works his on his own lyrics and created a segment on social media he calls ‘verse of the day’ where he sings or raps his original lyrics. It’s his goal to one day to take his music more seriously and get in a recording studio.
“I’ve been writing so much for so many years, I have so many pages on my laptop, I have 20 pages of free hand writing. I would really like to take I more seriously and get in the studio with someone, somewhere and make a mixtape or an album and really work on it.”
Another fighter with a passion for music is Tyron Woodley, who after his win against Darren Till announced he had a single called I’ll Beat Yo Ass ft. Wiz Khalifa & T Dubb O. Kelleher said he respects what Woodley did and is looking to make his own connections to do his own version.
“I wish I could figure out that kind of opportunity. I’m trying to network and try and find the best opportunity to get my voice out there.”
As far as who he’d like to work with, he has a few names in mind.
“I’d love to work with other guys who can sing really well like Post Malone and Khalid.”
In addition to recording a mixtape or an album, Kelleher wants to record a song he can walk out to for one of his fights.
“I feel like that’s a good way to get exposure and I think the UFC would like that. That would show a lot more of my character and put myself out there to the fans.”
And he already has an idea of what he would write about.
“I think I would write about the whole process and the mindset of going into a fight. That would be my topic of discussion and my subject would be what it’s like to fight and what it takes to fight and the kind of mindset you need to be in there and the training and the hard work and just try and get artistic with that.”
Speaking of fights, Kelleher will make his return to the Octagon on November 3 at UFC 230 against Montel Jackson. He was already supposed to face Domingo Pilarte. This will be Kelleher’s sixth fight in the UFC and he has a record of 3-2, including a win over former UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao. In his last fight, Kelleher faced a top ten opponent in John Lineker and though it was an exciting fight, he was on the wrong side of a third-round knockout.
Lineker is known as “Hands of Stone”, Kelleher agrees with that nickname and says Lineker’s power got in his head.
“I think in this fight, I was dealing with a guy who hit me harder than anybody that I’ve faced before and I think I felt that early on and I think it got a little bit of my attention where I began to fight a little bit more defensive and try to be more evasive and it took away from my aggression and my pressure and what I’m best it. It was hard to deal with that in the fight. Overall, looking back, I think I had a decent performance, I think I put up a really good fight with a top-level guy. It’s just unfortunate to get finished that way in the end, but I take away from it what I can and I try and move forward.”
After the fight, Kelleher took a bit of a vacation to relax, heal and learn. Part of that vacation took him to California where he learned from the best in his division, the UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw, who was in camp for Cody Garbrandt at the time.
“It was a really good practice, really good energy in the room. I got a little bit of one-on-one with T.J., that was cool. I feel like he has really good movement, and he has good feints and tricks and stuff like that. I kinda take a lot from his style and put it into my style, being that he is one of the best in the world, you gotta take what you can from these guys and try and implement it into your arsenal if it works for you. It was great to get out there and get some work.”
Though he is glad to have a fight, he is a little disappointed that he went from a top ten fighter to someone coming off a loss in their first UFC fight, though he doesn’t think it’s a completely negative thing, nor does he mean any disrespect to his opponent when saying that.
“I would be honest and say yea. When I first heard, it was a little bit like, ah that sucks, I fought Barao, had a great performance, beat him. I fought Lineker, had a good performance, showed a lot of promise and toughness in that fight. It’s hard to say if it’s good or bad, maybe the UFC is trying to help me out and give me a rebound – not to say anything bad about my opponent, everyone in the UFC is tough, everybody wants to win, you gotta be well-rounded and prepared for everything. As far as name goes and recognition goes, I would’ve liked to get a little bit more relevancy, where I would be fighting a top 15 guy still and bounced back where it actually meant something as far as the rankings went. But these days, the rankings are everywhere, who the hell knows if it even matters. Really what matters is just getting a win.”
As previously mentioned, Kelleher had an opponent change a few weeks before the fight, but to him, it doesn’t matter.
“I don’t overlook who I’m fighting, I just try and be myself in there.”
Though he isn’t making a prediction, Kelleher believes he has found a few weaknesses in Jackson’s game and believes he can exploit them.
“I see multiple things, he seems like a tough guy, he seems hard to put away. But if I can get a couple takedowns I think I can catch a submission on this guy. I’ve been working a lot of jiu jitsu, I’ve been learning a lot in the gym, I’ve been doing really well on the mats. It’s not something that’s been happening much in my fights, a lot of ground work. But I think it’s good to exploit guys’ weaknesses and I think that’s one of his, if I find myself there, I’m going to be looking for submission after submission and put pressure on this guy. But I’m confident on my feet as well, I don’t think anybody hits like John Lineker in this division but you always gotta be aware, be sharp, you’ve gotta be able to avoid as much as you can and try to land your shots. I’ll look to put the pressure on, keep moving forward, getting close, close the range, close the distance, pressure him on the cage, get some takedowns and just wear him out.”