UFC hopeful Keely Battrick is crowned WKO World champion

Lifeguard Keely Battrick has been crowned WKO World champion
Lifeguard Keely Battrick has been crowned WKO World champion

A lifeguard, who mans the pools at Burnley’s St Peter’s facility and Padiham Leisure Centre, is hoping to one day land a contract with the UFC after being crowned a two-time world champion kickboxer.

Keely Battrick, 17, is now dreaming of becoming the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s first ever British female champion and emulating what former middleweight king Michael Bisping achieved with the American promotion in the male category.

The teenager, representing Fit To Fight, which is run by her father, Billy, has been training since the tender age of five and has won all but two of her 78 contests in the sport.

“I’ve been kickboxing since the age of five, ever since I’ve been able to walk,” she said. “My Dad has always been my inspiration.

“I want to turn professional and one day earn a contract with the UFC. I just have to keep trying to get my name out there. I’ve been in to schools to do talks, I’ve been in newspapers and I’ve been on the radio.

“The main fighters that I’ve looked up to are Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm. I want to follow them and fight on TV for the UFC. I want to become the first British female to win a title.”

Keely now owns 13 belts, with her two world title straps adding to a collection that includes two European titles, a Commonwealth title, four British titles and four English titles.

She beat Burnley Dragons’ Alyssa Bristow at the Riverside in Rochdale to win her latest prize, coming out on top over five rounds for the World Kickboxing Organisation World title.

Alyssa was coming off a string of stunning victories over in Italy where she had beaten the German belt-holder to be crowned WKO World champion.

And being the true warrior she is the former Blessed Trinity RC High School pupil wanted to avenge her only loss against Keely and defend her title at the same time.

The two competitors, considered to be the best in their division at 60kg, headlined a 28-fight sell out show.

Keely, who has also fought under ISKA, WKU and WKA banners, was on fire and caught Alyssa with some very powerful head kicks, which have been known to end a number of her previous encounters, before a spinning hook kick knocked her opponent back into the ropes.

Alyssa, renowned for being as tough as nails, retaliated with a combination of solid blows, but Keely stood her ground and fired back with head shots of her own.

The defending champion had a game plan and slipped some of Keely’s back kicks and countered well with punches. But Keely, who has worked hard on her boxing, landed great punches of her own as well. Alyssa was always in the fight but the challenger, who is a devastating kicker, would finish every exchange with a solid round house.

Round four was probably Alyssa’s best round, using hit and hold techniques in an attempt to negate Keely’s kicking prowess while scoring well with kick and punch sequences to the body.

Keely responded and came out all guns blazing in the fifth and final round as she connected with a devastating right hook to the body and followed up with a side kick to the face.

The champion was clearly hurt, but, with her title on the line, she came back at Keely in a last ditch attempt to protect her throne.

The final 10 seconds was a frenetic shootout between both fighters but, in the end, it was Keely who came out on top.