Danielle Kelly Expects To Continue Rapid Rise With Submission Of Ayaka Miura

Danielle Kelly submits Mariia Molchanova

After a pair of sensational performances in ONE Championship’s quickly expanding submission grappling ranks, elite BJJ black belt Danielle Kelly seems destined for greatness.

At ONE Fight Night 7: Lineker vs. Andrade II on Prime Video, the American superstar will enter the Circle for the third time when she squares off with powerful judo black belt and former MMA World Title challenger Ayaka Miura in a pivotal catchweight submission grappling showdown.

Set to air live in U.S. primetime on February 24, the match comes four months after Kelly dismantled Sambo World Champion Mariia Molchanova to secure the first submission victory of her ONE Championship tenure.

Kelly’s technical prowess was on full display in that contest as she made quick work of the sambo stylist.

But while it may have looked easy, the 27-year-old says that early in the bout, Molchanova gave her some problems when she attempted a can opener – a brutal neck crank applied from inside the closed guard.

Rather than fight against the Russian’s strength, though, Kelly then used that attack to work her way to a dominant position.

She told ONEFC.com:

“To her credit, that can opener was pretty strong. But I used her strength against her. So I just knew, once I got to her side, I knew I was taking her back.”

In an incredible showcase of efficient and clean technique, the BJJ star took Molchanova’s back in a matter of seconds. 

From there, Kelly says it was simply a matter of hand fighting to sink in the match-ending choke, which came just moments after her foe attempted to slam her to the canvas.

The American detailed the finishing sequence, which also led to a US$50,000 performance bonus:

“Once I got her back, she had a really strong grip on my hand. I had like a deep rear-naked choke at first, but then she just kept putting her chin down, grabbing my wrist. … It was like 30 seconds gone by she was just holding it for dear life. 

“So then I kind of like baited her with, choked her out with my left hand. So I baited her this way. They went back to this way. And then once she just reacted, I put both hands to kind of make her post up a little bit. And then that’s when I sunk in with my left arm. And then I knew it was tight once she stood up, and once she attempted to slam me it got a bit tighter.”

Danielle Kelly Continues To Aim For Historic World Title In 2023

Now plenty comfortable under the bright lights of the world’s largest martial arts organization, Danielle Kelly is targeting submission grappling gold in 2023.

Specifically, she wants to capture the inaugural ONE Women’s Atomweight Submission Grappling World Title at some point over the next 12 months.

Kelly said:

“I want to win that women’s title for 115, for sure.”

First, though, she’ll need to get past ultra-tough Japanese judoka Ayaka Miura.

Known for her excellent takedowns and crushing top game, “Zombie” presents a stylistic clash for the guard-playing Kelly.

Perhaps surprisingly, the BJJ black belt hopes to test her own takedown game against Miura. Because despite her inclination to hunt for submissions from her back, Kelly is also an experienced and talented wrestler in her own right.

She explained:

“I’ve been working on my wrestling. I’m trying to get back to that because I used to wrestle a lot. I don’t want to be just a guard puller. So if I go against her, I think it’d be a fun match. Because I know she’s a judo black belt. I think she does a lot of takedowns for MMA fights. So yeah, we’re figuring out her game.”

However she gets it done, the Philadelphia-bred standout is confident in one thing – another emphatic finish on February 24.

She added:

“I’ll be submitting her. I would like to get a choke. I think leglocks are starting to be overrated, but I mean, if I get a leg lock then I’ll just go for it, but I don’t want to just have tunnel vision on it.”

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