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‘It’s Very Humbling’ – BJJ Star Danielle Kelly Discusses MMA Training, Buchecha’s Advice

Sep 9, 2022
Danielle Kelly smiles as she walks up to the Circle at ONE X: Part I

Danielle Kelly exploded into ONE Championship with an impressive submission grappling performance that earned her a US$50,000 bonus from CEO Chatri Sityodtong.

But while she’s one of the best BJJ competitors on the planet, the American is also eyeing a move into mixed martial arts.

For now, Kelly has only displayed her world-class ground skills in the promotion.

While her match with Japanese veteran Mei Yamaguchi at ONE X officially resulted in a draw, the 26-year-old dominated the action and came close on multiple submission attempts.

The BJJ black belt will continue to compete in grappling-only contests, but she’s adding to her all-around game for a potential switch in the future – and she already has some of her bases covered.

Kelly said:

“I started wrestling after I joined jiu-jitsu, about six months later. I wrestled until my senior year, or college freshman year. I was doing folkstyle in school, and I was doing freestyle outside of it because I was planning on going to college for freestyle.”

The striking portion of MMA – and mixing all of the elements together – is still relatively new to Kelly, although she’s getting more familiar with it by the day.

The American is putting in time with some elite training partners to make sure she’s prepared and confident when she ultimately dons the 4-ounce mixed martial arts gloves in the Circle.

At the same time, she admits the process has been eye-opening.

Kelly said:

“I have been doing my [MMA] classes right now. I’ve been getting back into sparring. It’s very humbling, just because the girls that I train with, they’re in other organizations, some of them are top 10 – and they’re really good jiu-jitsu, too. 

“It’s going to be hard for me if I go against someone who has a [striking] background. I need to learn how to defend or strike. So that’s where I’m still putting the pieces of the puzzle together. But it does give me hope. I just have to keep myself humble and not think that, just because I’m good at grappling, I’m going to beat up everyone.”

Buchecha Offered Danielle Kelly Advice On Move To MMA

When it comes to transitioning from submission grappling to MMA, Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida is certainly an expert.

The legendary 17-time BJJ World Champion moved into the all-around sport last year, and he’s earned dominant first-round finishes in all four appearances despite facing stiff competition.

That incredible transition has showcased the power of elite grappling in mixed martial arts, and Danielle Kelly was lucky enough to get some advice from the rising heavyweight contender.

She told ONEFC.com

“We briefly talked when were in LA. He told me he was a little nervous at first. It was new to him because he’s used to jiu-jitsu and the gi. He was just telling me it’s still new, but over time it’s kind of like jiu-jitsu. You get used to grappling through doing sparring rounds, so you can get used to MMA. 

“The more you spar, the more you get used to getting punched in the face and the technique battles from standing – because everything changes once you’re getting punched in the face.”

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