A tough spell may have slowed down his momentum, but the Team Lakay star is determined to turn his career around and quickly return to prominence.
This coming Friday, 28 May, Kelly will welcome Egyptian juggernaut Ahmed “The Prince” Faress to the Circle at ONE: FULL BLAST, and he plans to use his talented opponent as a launchpad back to World Title contention.
“A win here would be huge for me,” the 37-year-old Filipino says. “It would further add to my desire to return among the ranks of the best fighters in the featherweight division – and it starts with Ahmed.”
Kelly has long been considered one of the most talented and entertaining featherweights in the promotion.
The Baguio City native has recorded a slew of highlight-reel victories in ONE, including a 21-second knockout of Cambodian hard-hitter Meas Meul and a one-punch KO of Dutch-Indonesian veteran Vincent Latoel.
The Filipino was especially disappointed with the latter defeat, which has served as motivation for the clash with Faress.
“This is a very big match for me because I’m coming off a decision loss, a very close one,” Kelly says. “That’s why I regret that loss. I was that close to getting the win.”
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Of course, Kelly is facing a tough test in the 29-year-old “Prince,” who could be the man to take Egyptian mixed martial arts to new heights.
Before entering ONE Championship’s main roster, the Cairo native accumulated a stellar 16-3 professional record with a 100 percent finishing rate. Most notably, he’s racked up 13 victories by submission, including a rear-naked choke of battle-hardened Irish veteran Alan “The Apprentice” Philpott during his brief time in ONE Warrior Series.
That could spell trouble for Kelly, who is primarily known for his lethal wushu-based striking. But “The Ferocious” is no slouch in the grappling department, and it’s an area he has dramatically enhanced alongside his stablemates at Team Lakay.
“I really worked double-time on my ground game. I know that’s where I’m lacking and that’s what I need to improve on,” the Filipino says. “It also just so happened that Ahmed is a very strong ground fighter, so it all fits.”
While Faress also has a few TKO victories on his resume, “The Ferocious” is confident that he holds the edge in the stand-up realm – and he believes he can produce another extraordinary moment in the Circle.
At the same time, Kelly understands that nothing is more important than beating Faress, and he will use whatever is available to ruin the Egyptian’s main roster debut and launch himself into the featherweight conversation.
“My main advantage has to be Team Lakay’s bread and butter in striking,” Kelly says.
“Though I don’t really care how I win, I just want to win, whether it be knockout, decision, or submission. I just want to win my match.”