Danielle Kelly has quickly become one of the most popular athletes on ONE Championship’s growing submission grappling roster.
Moving forward, the American star hopes to continue her upward trajectory and gain some redemption in the process.
That redemption could come against Cambodian-American grappling prodigy Jessa Khan, who joined the world’s largest martial arts organization in May.
It was a signing that immediately captured Kelly’s attention, as she lost to Khan via decision in February 2021.
However, the 26-year-old knows she didn’t put forth her best effort that day. She had been suffering from an ailment and also admits to experiencing some pre-fight jitters.
The Philadelphia native told ONE Championship:
“All the lights were on me. Everything. I was really nervous. I couldn’t do interviews or anything. It wasn’t just because of her because I trained with girls who have beaten her in the past. So, it wasn’t the issue of training. I was dealing with an injury at the time.
“But I’m the type of person who doesn’t like to back out. I think they were just more like the nerves. It wasn’t anything just jiu-jitsu related, so I really think that just took a mental toll on me at the match.”
However, a lot has changed for Kelly since that defeat to Khan.
She’s continued to fine-tune her craft, claimed notable victories on the grappling scene – including one over MMA superstar Carla Esparza – and even earned a US$50,000 performance bonus for her gutsy effort against Mei Yamaguchi in her promotional debut this past March.
With improved techniques and growing confidence, Kelly firmly believes a rematch with Khan would produce a different result.
The atomweight said:
“I’ll be a little nervous, but I’m really probably more pumped than ever. I would like to go against a legit grappler like herself.
“I think I can beat her, and I think I can beat anyone in front of me. But she’s someone that I would like to have a match against. Yeah, it’s just something I can prove myself and get back. So, hopefully, that match happens.”
Danielle Kelly Thinks She’d Submit Angela Lee Quickly In Grappling Match
Danielle Kelly may have her eyes on a rematch with fellow submission grappling star Jessa Khan, but she’s also interested in facing another Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt – ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee.
Lee has earned eight submission victories in her MMA career, and Kelly would love to test the atomweight queen’s ground skills in a submission grappling contest.
But if that matchup comes to fruition, she expects to submit “Unstoppable” with relative ease.
“Under five minutes. [I’d submit her] either by leg lock or take her back and choke her out.”