Kevin Natividad (+194) vs. Brian Kelleher (-235)
Weight Class: Featherweight (145 lbs)
Brian Kelleher will be continuing his run at Featherweight following a tough loss to Cody Stamann back in June. The veteran Kelleher will be squaring up with UFC newcomer Kevin Natividad, who most recently secured a knockout win with LFA just a few weeks ago. Natividad is a last minute switch of opponents for Kelleher, who was initially slated to face Ricky Simon.
Kevin Natividad is a very interesting fighter who could very well have a solid UFC future ahead of him. The Hawaii native knocked out Kyle Estrada in July and fought Irwin Rivera back in 2017. Natividad — who trains out of Tempe, Arizona — defeated Rivera via majority decision. Rivera is of course now 1-1 in the UFC following a win on August 8th.
Natividad showed great determination in the Estrada fight, staying in the pocket and weathering early damage in order to secure a knockout finish. He has very crisp striking, winning four of his nine pro fights via knockout. He hasn’t lost since 2017 and is no slouch on the ground.
As for Brian Kelleher, he has double the amount of wins that Natividad has fights. It’s been a busy year for “Boom” Kelleher, as this upcoming bout will be his fourth of the calendar year. He has gone 2-1 thus far, securing big underdog finishes against Ode Osbourne and Hunter Azure respectively. His lone loss in 2020 was a unanimous decision to Cody Stamann, which was a fight that was closer than the score cards would indicate.
Experience will be an enormous factor in this bout and is probably the main reason why I’m taking Kelleher. Short notice fighters have been having a rough go of things in the post-COVID world and this will likely be similar. Though Natividad has a great future ahead of him, Brian Kelleher is simply too big of an obstacle for a UFC debut.
Kelleher has arguably looked as good as he’s ever looked in 2020, which makes him a threat to really anyone. The New Yorker is very well rounded, winning multiple fights via submission or knockout. He has one of each in 2020, with a submission against Osbourne and a come from behind knockout against Azure. I don’t quite know how he’ll win (my gut says points), but I am very confident in Kelleher winning. The kicks will add up and Kelleher will at the very least do enough to secure a decision.
While (-235) is a bit risky for a moneyline bet, I think that this is an instance where I’m going to throw at least a unit on Brian Kelleher. He could win in any number of ways, and he will, but there isn’t a clear method. Barring an insane performance from Natividad, I would call this a safe bet. For the level of comfort I have, (-235) is a steal.