When ‘the Face’ noticed that I dressed formally for the occasion, he stopped mid-interview with another media member to call me a “dapper gentleman”.
That got a big laugh.
“Dressed for the occasion! You’re making me feel underdressed. It’s not the coat though, it’s the hanger.”
I was right, this was going to be a fun one.
“It feels great. No, it doesn’t actually feel great. I’m f***ing pissed off and I want to get in there. But make sure you censor that because my Ma’s going to be listening. She’s going to be pissed off if she hears me cursing.”
No wooden spoon required, Mrs Kiely.
“Irish mammies are the boss. She’s scarier than any MMA fighter. Her nickname is Rambo Kiely.”
While yucking it up was enjoyable, there was a bit of housekeeping to attend to. The last time Kiely was inside the Bellator cage, he was being knocked out by Michael ‘Venom’ Page. The booking of the fight was controversial, the build-up was heated and the finish was violent.
So, I needed to know, what exactly went wrong.
“Look, loads of things. Eight weeks out from the fight I got a bad injury. I’m not going to belabor the point. It severely curtailed my ability to fight in there. The only thing I could really had was a left hook. He didn’t come onto a left hook. He kept his distance, he was clever. That’s it. I’ll put that behind me until I see him again. Then I’ll address that one personally.”
Both Kiely and Page were punished by the commission for how they conducted themselves in the fight. MVP was deducted a point for pretending to take selfies while ground and pounding Kiely. The Dubliner received a fine for giving his adversary the finger inside the cage.
“I was called in and the commissioner was there like, ‘See that flipping the bird to MVP? That’s going to cost you $1,000.’ I was like, ‘Noooooo!’ (Laughs) He offered to shake my hand. I shook his hand and because I was a gentleman about it, he suspended the fine.So it was grand.”
“It was an instinctive thing to do. It wasn’t something I planned to do. I did it out of frustration. Not frustration over his antics, frustration because I couldn’t move the way I wanted to move. He was just in the firing line, so he got the one-fingered salute. But he got me back by taking selfies as he was elbowing me in the mouth.”
As for MVP’s antics, they didn’t bother Kiely. Admittedly, he asked for it.
“I’ve dished it out a lot. I’ve no problem taking it. For me, once the fight is over, it’s over unless they want to carry it on. He carried it on, so now the animosity is real.”
Although he was hampered by injury and the odds were stacked against him in the experience department, Kiely has no regrets over taking the MVP fight.
“This fight was a big opportunity financially for me. The reason why I didn’t pull out of the fight with the injury was because that fight was for my son. That goes towards a house for me and my son. If that wasn’t a factor, I would have pulled out. I would have looked to get the fight at a later date, but he wouldn’t have taken the fight at a later date. He’s a coward at heart. You could see that in the build-up. He copped that my movement was curtailed and then he was Billy Big Balls, but in the lead-up to the fight he was jumping behind security guards and all that kind of craic.”
His seven-year-old son Derry is the reason why he took the MVP fight. He’s the reason why he does anything. On Saturday night, when he walks out to fight George Hardwick in the 3Arena, he will have Derry’s name emblazoned on the back of his shorts.
“He’s the motivation to do it. I don’t want to sound cheesey or cliched, but that’s the reason why I did the last fight with such a bad injury going in knowing it was probably a foregone conclusion unless he walked onto a left hook. But I have no regrets over that. I love him dearly.”
“Everyone says when your child is born it’s the best day of your life. But it’s not. It’s the most confusing day of your life. It changes like that and you’re going, ‘…what do I do?’ It’s trying to figure it out and once you build that bond with him, that’s when things change. That’s when it becomes special. Things have a different flavor when you have a child. Your behavior is colored by how it will impact him – who you interact with, who your friends are, what you do in life – he’s the driving force behind every decision I make.”
That being said, Kiely operates under the ‘do as I say, not what I do’ school of parenting. But once Derry grows up, he will provide him with more context.
“Don’t get me wrong. I know how I conduct myself. I’m outspoken. But I also know the results that come with that. I’m happy to explain that to him. Now, if he behaves like me when he’s older, I’m going to be having some serious words.”
Kiely shields his son from his fighting career. He doesn’t bring him to the fights. He doesn’t really tell him what he does inside the cage. In Derry’s eyes, his dad is a wrestler.
“I would never put him into (fighting). He enjoys basketball. He enjoys football. He’s such a beautiful boy. He’s very soft, loving and compassionate. (In MMA) this is always artificial. Everyone’s always posturing. There’s always that toxic masculinity. I wouldn’t like to bring him into this environment. You know, taking off your top and getting in someone’s face. What we do is very unnatural. That’s why everyone is so entertained by it.”
“Whatever he does, I’ll support him whether it be tiddlywinks or I’ll be in his corner, I’ll be supporting him as loudly as anyone else.”
Images credit: Sathishaa Mohan