Terrace-based Keanan Keller slammed his way to a second title in amateur mixed martial arts (MMA) in Abbotsford recently.
Now with two amateur middleweight titles, including the Fivestar Fight League title he won in Terrace last May, Keller says he’ll be kicking it up to the pros within the year.
Living in North Delta since February 2016, Keller has been training at the Titan MMA club in Port Coquitlam. He fought for his second amateur title Nov. 10 at the Mamba Fight League.
Keller entered the ring against middleweight title-holder Kenny Pope, a 6’6″, 183-pound fighter with a 3-4-0 amateur record.
Keller is slightly shorter at 6’5″, 182 pounds, and went into the fight with a 5-1-0 record.
It was a quick, 2:27 minute, technical knockout (TKO) victory for Keller, called by referees in the first round of what could have been a five-round fight.
Keller said it started a bit slow, with him conserving energy, defending and counter attacking as he bided his time.
“[Pope is] taller than me, so he had longer arms and could hit me where I couldn’t hit him. So I was just making him take the shots, so he would come towards me and give me an opportunity to land some of my own shots.”
But about two minutes in, Keller found his opening.
They were tight against ropes, clinched up and fighting for position when Keller managed to push back and make space for an attack.
With that, Keller swung an uppercut full power under Pope’s chin and followed it with a second shot to the head.
“I watched his eyes roll in the socket, so I knew the shot landed really hard,” Keller said, noting that he followed Pope around the cage for a few more seconds before he swept the win with a solid headkick.
“I saw [Pope] plant his feet to throw one of his own shots at me,” Keller explained, “but right as he did that, I threw a headkick. The kick landed perfectly, it went right across his chin and pretty well lifted him right off the ground too when the kick landed.”
Pope crumpled to the ground and Keller said he got “some good ground pound” to Pope’s head before the referee stepped in and called the TKO victory (a technical knockout called by the referees, different from a knockout where the opponent goes down cold).
The fight also earned Keller the “Knockout of the night” award, given by several unbiased judges in the audience.
The Mamba middleweight title is Keller’s second amateur MMA title, and his third fight for title after losing to Battlefield amateur welterweight champion Jayden Martin, and defeating Derek Apps for the Fivestar middleweight title in Terrace this spring.
Keller says he hopes to secure one more amateur title before going pro, but if he can’t secure a solid fight by next October he’s going for it.
“I don’t want to wait so long before I fight again,” he said, adding that going pro means more pay and more fights more often.
Keller is now ranked #7 among the amateur middleweights internationally, and #5 in Canada according to topology.com, a widely used online international MMA fighting network.