5 Reasons Danielle Kelly Is One Of Submission Grappling’s Brightest Young Stars

Danielle Kelly stands triumphantly at ONE X: Part I

American submission grappler Danielle Kelly has all the makings of a ONE Championship superstar. 

The Philadelphia-bred competitor is a BJJ black belt under Karel “Silver Fox” Pravec and is widely considered one of the best submission artists in the world.

But what exactly makes Kelly so special?

Here, we explain why fans are salivating over the 26-year-old and anxiously awaiting her next appearance in the Circle.

#1 She’s Not Afraid To Call Her Shot

Kelly doesn’t shy away from big-name opponents. 

Shortly after her impressive ONE Championship debut – in which she dominated Japanese MMA legend Mei Yamaguchi – Kelly called for a submission grappling match against reigning ONE Women’s Atomweight MMA World Champion Angela Lee.

Taking things a step further, she boldly predicted that she would submit the Singaporean-American megastar in less than five minutes.

Considering that Lee is a BJJ black belt herself with eight career wins via submission, this is no easy callout.

#2 She’s Beaten A Variety Of Elite Opponents

Kelly has a deep competition record and holds wins over several of world-class foes. Notably, she’s also defeated a wide range of opponents, including both MMA and BJJ World Champions.

In addition to victories over elite MMA fighters like Cynthia Calvillo, Carla Esparza, and Yamaguchi, the American has toppled BJJ standouts such as Sofia Amarante and Jessica Crane.

Simply put, the rising phenom already has a wealth of high-level competition experience. And as her win column grows, so too will her star power.

#3 She’s A Submission Hunter

In the Circle and on the mat, Kelly delivers high-paced, entertaining action, making her a must-see athlete every time she competes.

Simply put, she’s a submission specialist. Whereas some grapplers may excel in guard-passing or back-takes, the American is constantly searching for the finish from all positions.

While many of her biggest wins have come via leg lock, she can also threaten with upper-body submissions, like armbars, triangle chokes, and rear-naked chokes. 

And of course, the Silver Fox BJJ representative has a number of different leg lock finishes on her record, including toeholds, kneebars, heel hooks, and straight ankle locks.

#4 She’s Found Success In Many Rule Sets

Kelly has competed and succeeded under a variety of rule sets. That ability to win regardless of regulations, match length, or scoring criteria bodes well for her future as one of BJJ’s biggest stars.

An avid and frequent competitor, Kelly has performed well under the IBJJF points-based format, the ADCC submission grappling format, and the submission-only format used by ONE Championship.

Her style of grappling works well under any and all rules because she is always looking for the submission.

And whether it’s a points-based match or submission-only, chasing that finish will usually lead to good things.

#5 She Plans To Compete In MMA

Kelly is already a star in the world of submission grappling, but she also has a chance to take over MMA.

And ever since ONE Championship signed the American earlier this year, she’s been reiterating her intention to compete in the all-around sport under the promotional banner.

With her prodigious grappling pedigree, the 26-year-old would likely find quick success in mixed martial arts, further launching her down the road to superstar status.

And when Kelly eventually dons the 4-ounce gloves, it will be one of the most highly anticipated debuts in recent memory.

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