The Road To Danielle Kelly Vs. Jessa Khan II For The Inaugural Atomweight Submission Grappling World Title

Danielle Kelly celebrates after her win against Ayaka Miura at ONE Fight Night 7

On September 29, elite Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belts Danielle Kelly and Jessa Khan will square off for the inaugural ONE Women’s Atomweight Submission Grappling World Title.

Slated for ONE Fight Night 14: Stamp vs. Ham on Prime Video and airing live in U.S. primetime from the Singapore Indoor Stadium, that historic matchup will be the first-ever Women’s Submission Grappling World Title bout in ONE.

The contest also has the makings of an all-time classic, with each competitor at the top of their game and hungry for gold.

The two American-born ground specialists have battled once before and have been eyeing a rematch ever since. With that said, let’s look back at the road that led to this intriguing World Title showdown.

Their First Encounter

Kelly and Khan first met in February 2021 at an American no-gi grappling event. 

At the time, Kelly was beginning to make waves as a black belt competitor, having picked up impressive submission wins over a number of talented opponents on the professional scene.

Khan, meanwhile, was just a few months into her black belt career. But given her incredible success at the lower belts and her team at the world-renowned Art of Jiu Jitsu academy, she was already one of the most exciting young stars in recent memory.

Over the course of their 15-minute, submission-only match, it was Khan who secured the most legitimate attempts, even surprising Kelly with several deep leg locks – something considered the latter’s area of expertise.

Ultimately, the rookie black belt earned the hard-fought decision on the strength of her relentless attacks, particularly from her vaunted closed guard.

Kelly, though, acquitted herself well in defeat, displaying crafty defense and gritty determination throughout the fast-paced encounter.

Kelly’s Rise In ONE Championship

After losing to Khan, the 27-year-old would pick up several key wins, including a submission victory over IBJJF No-Gi World Champion Sofia Amarante.

In March 2022, Kelly made her ONE debut, competing in the organization’s first-ever women’s submission grappling match against Japanese MMA icon Mei Yamaguchi.

And even though she was unable to secure the submission that night, the Philadelphia native utterly dominated her foe to earn a well-deserved US$50,000 performance bonus.

Kelly would then reel off a pair of stellar victories in ONE, submitting Sambo World Champion Mariia Molchanova last November before scoring a decision win over MMA superstar Ayaka Miura this past February.

Khan Lives Up To The Hype

Just 19 years old when she defeated Kelly, Khan would follow that victory with an up-and-down 2021, defeating some elite competitors while losing to others.

In 2022, though, things started to click for the Cambodian-American, as she earned gold at the IBJJF Pan American Championships – her first major title in the black belt ranks.

Showing rapid improvement in her overall submission game, Khan would soon stake her claim as arguably the planet’s top atomweight grappler.

This past June, the 21-year-old put on a spectacular performance at the prestigious IBJJF World Championships, winning four matches – including two by submission – to take gold and etch her name in the history books.

The World Title Rematch

Now two years removed from their first encounter, Kelly and Khan are set to lock horns yet again in a high-profile matchup.

In one corner, Kelly has continued to grow her reputation as a feared and well-rounded submission hunter, becoming a fixture of ONE’s burgeoning submission grappling divisions.

Khan, meanwhile, has lived up to the lofty expectations surrounding her as she captured an IBJJF World Title.

Clearly, both women have improved by leaps and bounds over the past couple of years, and their rematch on September 29 is destined to produce fireworks – and a historic ONE Submission Grappling World Champion.

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