Filipino Featherweight Champion Eric Kelly of Baguio City is one of the Philippines’ most successful martial artists of his time, and he is a proud member of the Igorot tribe. At the age of 19, Kelly started wushu and proved to be a natural, even claiming gold in the striking art at the Southeast Asian Games. Unfortunately, Kelly lost his spot on the Philippine national wushu team after suffering an injury, and he was forced to take on a variety of odd jobs in order to support himself.
That was when Kelly found his calling after he was introduced to mixed martial arts by his friends. With his passion for martial arts reignited, Kelly began his professional career by tearing through the domestic scene in the Philippines, and he soon made his debut on the global stage at ONE Championship’s first-ever show in 2011.
After going an incredible 9-0, he earned a shot at the ONE Featherweight World Title, but suffered the first defeat of his career when he was unable to continue against Honorio Banario due to an eye injury. Kelly took some time off to recover and returned in sensational fashion, scoring a huge comeback submission over Rob Lisita in 2014 that earned him a US$50,000 warrior bonus. That victory cemented the Filipino’s status as a top contender in ONE’s highly competitive featherweight division, and he continues his quest for the ONE Featherweight World Title today.