The event took place at the Jupiters Casino in Broadbeach, Queensland.
Kelleher had stepped up on less than half-a-days notice after the previous opponent, South African Dricus du Plessis was forced out, unable to enter the country due to visa issues.
With his opponent being a dangerous striker, Kennedy wasted no time in taking the opportunity to put his opponent on the canvas. Kennedy, a BJJ Black belt passed from guard to side-control where he immediately went to work looking for the kimura submission. Kelleher stayed composed off his back and saw out the round.
Kennedy came out striking in the second however took his opportunity to take the fight back to the ground when Kelleher over-committed with punches. He stayed strong from the top and countered all of Kelleher’s moves, before securing the head-arm choke from mount and getting the tap.
The win which came at 2:34 of round two, was Kennedy’s first in MMA since he retired back in June 2016.
After the win Kennedy gave props to Kelleher for stepping up on late notice and saving the event.
“Only chance I had of losing was if he landed one of those dynamite hands or kicks on me. It was boring but I played it super safe. I wasn’t going to stand there with him,” Kennedy said of his opponent.
“Mad mad props to him for getting in there on short notice. He saved the whole show. This is the Ben Kelleher show ladies and gentlemen.”
In the co-main event, former women’s boxing world champion Arlene Blencowe looked devastating in finishing Janay Harding in the opening round of their featherweight bout. The former Bellator fighter pressured Harding from the opening bell, rocking her with a strong right. Harding clinched and was able to separate. Blencowe landed a flurry against the cage, including a big right hook that dropped Harding and forced the referee to halt the contest.
The official stoppage came at 1:08 of the opening round as Blencowe moves to 8-6 as a MMA pro. Harding drops to 2-3, with all three losses coming to fighters competing internationally, Megan Anderson, Jessica Rose-Clark and now Blencowe.
Blencowe confirmed during the event that she is signed on to compete at the next AFC event scheduled to take place in China this March. Opponent still to be announced.
There was a bit of bad-blood between New Zealand’s Luke Jumeau and former The Ultimate Fighter contestant Vik Grujic. It all started at the weigh-ins yesterday where Grujic came in nearly four kilograms overweight and continued post-fight after their bout
Grujic controlled the first round where he landed a head-kick before taking Jumeau to the ground where he transitioned to mount and back-mount. The 39-year-old locked up a tight rear-naked choke that had Jumeau grasping for air. The Kiwi held out and escaped before the end of the round.
Grujic’s pace slowed between rounds and as he came forward with a takedown attempt, he was clipped by a left thrown by Jumeau that hit the back of the head as Grujic came forward. Grujic immediately dropped and Jumeau followed up with strikes before the referee halted the contest.
During the official announcement, Grujic made it clear that he did not agree with the stoppage as both fighters started verbally attacking each-other before being separated by the referee.
Earlier in the night, Julius Poananga upset local fighter Anthony Johns, catching him in a guillotine choke while notably on the undercard Jason Petropoulos secured a nice heel-hook submission, 31-seconds into his bout against Ramen Habib.