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23rd Feb 2019

Richard Kiely said he was the best striker in Bellator, then he did this

He calls his shots

Darragh Murphy

He proclaimed himself ‘the face of Bellator.’ He declared himself ‘the best striker in the organisation’

Richard Kiely’s performance in his Bellator debut makes it difficult to question either of his confident pre-fight statements.

Since we last saw Kiely in competition, the Tallaght man underwent surgery on a career-threatening injury and retired from mixed martial arts but Saturday night proved that his career plan is working a treat.

Kiely announced his retirement in order to boost potential offers from promoters while giving him the time necessary to rehabilitate his knee after suffering his first career defeat to Alex Lohore in November 2017.

Bellator came calling, asking what it would take to convince Kiely to renege on his retirement plans and the SBG welterweight got the contract he felt he deserved.

Kiely made his Bellator debut on Saturday night and put the organisation’s 170lbs on notice with a striking clinic against Mickael Bucher on the undercard of Bellator 217 at the 3Arena.

After enjoying the better of the exchanges on the feet throughout the opening frame, Kiely ought to have earned a walk-off KO but he instead treated the venue to some extra shots before referee Brian Miner finally saw enough and confirmed Kiely’s move to 3-1 as a pro.

Having made clear an interest in stepping in for any injured parties in Bellator’s welterweight Grand Prix, Kiely also seems very eager to settle his differences with former sparring partner Lorenz Larkin in a fight which the organisation is apparently considering.