Denise Kielholtz vies for a second title within Bellator as the former Bellator Kickboxing champion vies for MMA flyweight gold. Standing in the way of this huge feat is an undefeated reigning, defending champion in Juliana Velasquez at Bellator 262.
This main event bout goes down on Friday, July 16th from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The pugilistic proceedings are set to broadcast on Showtime.
I spoke with the 125-pound title contender and below are several excerpts from our recent conversation.
Officially getting the news about this flyweight title bid for Bellator MMA
“To be honest, after my last fight, it was already in the back of my mind. That I may be the next challenger against Juliana Velasquez. In fact to be honest I think from all the division, that I have the most chance to fight her. So I was already training and I’ve always been training. But in the back of my mind, maybe I get a call that I will be the next challenger. And I think in May I have that call. When my managers told me that I’m the next challenger, I was jumping on the roof. I cried, screaming, laughing. I was really happy because I am looking forward to this title fight.”
The dynamic of Denise Kielholtz’s older social media post where she took a picture with Bellator’s MMA title while competing with Bellator as their kickboxing champion
“When I was fighting kickboxing in the kickboxing division, I was not even thinking about going to MMA. So when I had a photo shoot, I saw the title on the table. I said, can I just have a picture with the title just for fun? And years later, I’m now fighting for this title. So it still seems like a dream. The whole road to this title. Coming from kickboxing, winning the kickboxing title, defending the kickboxing title. Then Bellator asked me to fight in the MMA division.”
“After that first fight in Israel that I had won with the armbar I knew, Okay, this is also something I want to be good in. I want to be the champion in it. So as soon as I had that first fight with Bellator MMA, I knew that that picture with the title that I had, it was not just for fun. This is now for real and this is also for real my dream. So it’s all started with a picture but now it’s for real.”
Being a decorated kickboxer and a black belt in judo as she crossed over into MMA
“I did kickboxing and I fight against everyone. In every organization I fought, I was the world champion. After that, I fought again and I won again. Then there was not really someone that brings some fire in me. So after my last kickboxing fight, I was thinking what’s next? The fire was a little bit down because I fought already everyone. The best of the best. Then Bellator came with the MMA idea. It was in the back of my mind…Yeah, it goes really fast if you start believing in your dreams.”
Getting training insights from PRIDE veteran/ Dutch MMA legend Bob Schrijber
“For sure and he still is an OG. He’s really tough. Also when he gives us lessons and when he teaches, he’s really tough. You can’t go to him and say I have a little bit of pain here. He’ll say ok, go to your mama and cry there…When I see his fighting, it also motivates me to fight like that.”
“He’s not only a legend in MMA and especially what he is still doing for MMA in Holland, he’s really big. So for me, it’s like an honor that he is my trainer. That he sees something in me to create a world champion of me in MMA. So I was really honored that Bob Schrijber takes his time to train me.”
The Juliana Velasquez matchup and her skillset overall
“I think she deserves to be the champion now. How she fought against everyone, she deserves to be the champion now. But for me, I think the big difference is that you cannot compare me to anyone that she’s fought. I have a kickboxing record of almost 50 or 60 fights. I fought a lot of girls who are just like Juliana Velasquez. And that’s the big difference, she didn’t fight anyone like me. That’s what I see the big difference will be. She is a really good fighter but I see also see some things that other fighters in this division didn’t see or didn’t do.”
Fans being in attendance for this Bellator MMA show
“So cool. It was an empty stadium and I also fought there (previously) in a full stadium. There is so much difference. So when I heard that Bellator now is going to have an audience, that’s so awesome. But in the cage, you don’t really feel the audience but outside the cage. The energy and yelling and everything around that, it’s just dynamic. And I think in every event there has to be an audience. Because audience is the energy and we feel the energy. We missed the energy. So I think this fight that the audience is there, I’m really blessed to have them again.”
Parting thoughts for Denise Kielholtz
“I want to thank you for the interview. For your time and for the questions. This whole dream, this whole road to this title, this title means more to me than anything. This fight camp, I gave it my all. The last energy, the last sweat, blood, everything that I had in this fight camp is going to show. This next Friday when the belt comes to me. To my house, to Holland next to my blue belt. That’s my goal. To be the first woman who in one organization held two titles. World champion belts. So, next to my blue belt, the red belt is going to also be there. So watch me this Friday.”
I’ve been enamored with combat sports for as long as I can remember. I’ve hosted MMA talk shows Lights Out and Pure Fight Radio with featured guests like Jens Pulver, Roy Nelson, Miesha Tate, Mark Coleman, and more. I’ve been an MMA broadcaster for XFFC as well as BTC and have done play by play commentary on live pay per view on GFL as well as FITE TV. I’ve provided written, audio, and video content covering some of the biggest MMA promotions like Rumble in the Cage, Unified MMA, and King of the Cage. I’ve worked as a sports entertainment personality for over five years and given play-by-play or featured promotions of KSW, ONE Championship, TKO, and Invicta FC. My work can be found in the USA Today Sports affiliate MMA Torch, Cageside Press, MMA Sucka, and Liberty Multimedia.