3 Reasons Why Danielle Kelly Might Be The Most Exciting Female Grappler In The World

Danielle Kelly stands in the Circle

Elite Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Danielle Kelly is not only one of the most dangerous submission grapplers on the planet, but also one of the most entertaining.

On February 24 at ONE Fight Night 7: Lineker vs. Andrade II on Prime Video, Kelly will face powerful judo black belt and strawweight MMA star Ayaka Miura in another opportunity to showcase her impressive skill set in front of a primetime North American audience.

With two thrilling matches in ONE Championship already and an extensive resume at the highest levels of competition, the United States native has firmly established herself as a must-see athlete.

As Kelly prepares for her third appearance in the world’s largest martial arts organization and targets a potential World Title shot in 2023, let’s break down what makes her such an entertaining competitor.

#1 She Attacks With A Wide Range Of Submissions

Always hunting for a finish, the Philadelphia-bred star doesn’t discriminate between submission types.

On paper, Kelly might seem like a leg lock specialist, with many of her most significant victories coming from lower-body attacks. But looking closer, she has a wide variety of leg submissions under her belt, including heel hooks, kneebars, and straight ankle locks.

Leg locks aren’t all she can do, though, as Kelly tends to take the quickest path toward a submission, whatever that may be.

To that end, she’s just as dangerous at taking the back and securing the choke, as fans saw in her most recent match last November at ONE on Prime Video 4.

That evening, Kelly took the back of Sambo World Champion Mariia Molchanova in a matter of seconds, before securing the rear-naked choke submission just moments later. 

#2 She Has Excellent Takedowns

Even though the 27-year-old owns one of the sport’s most feared guard games, that doesn’t mean she can’t wrestle.

In fact, Kelly has shown to be more than capable of controlling and dictating the match on her feet thanks to her time wrestling alongside the boys in high school and her diligent takedown training since then.

Again, the American always aims to end matches quickly, so we often see her pulling guard. But more often than not, she plays from her guard simply because that is the path of least resistance and the fastest route to a submission.

When she does decide to fight for the takedown, Kelly has showcased top-end wrestling technique and relentless pacing, making her a threat against any opponent, regardless of style.

#3 Her Endless Gas Tank

While it’s true that she prefers to score a fast submission, Kelly also possesses the world-class endurance to grapple at a torrid pace from start to finish.

In addition to her numerous victories by submission, the Karel Pravec black belt owns several overtime wins against elite competition, proving that she can use her cardio and pacing as a weapon to wear down her opponent as the match drags on.

Kelly’s seemingly endless gas tank was on full display in her ONE Championship debut against MMA legend Mei Yamaguchi. In that contest, she never once slowed her attacks or showed any signs of fatigue, grappling at a furious rate for 12 full minutes.

Although she wasn’t able to secure the submission on the veteran, Kelly’s fan-friendly, action-packed style earned her a US$50,000 performance bonus.

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