A winner in his first fight with One FC, Kelly took some time off for the remainder of 2011, but now that he’s ready to return at Destiny of Warriors in June, the young upstart is ready to tackle the MMA world once again.
Facing Bae Young Kwon on June 23, Kelly is ready to get back in action and show just who he is in the One FC cage.
MMAWeekly.com: You won submission of the night against Mitch Chilson at ONE FC ‘Champion vs Champion but you have been out of action for a long time since then, why is that?
Eric Kelly: I was offered some fights in the Philippines but I turned them down, now I think that was a mistake and I am just happy to be fighting again and also to be fighting in Kuala Lumpur which is where I live now.
You used to live and train in Baguio but now you are based in Kuala Lumpur. Why did you move and how has it affected you?
I can earn money teaching in Malaysia which is more difficult to do in the Philippines which is why I came here and also there are some good fighters at Muayfit for me to train with like Arnaud Lepont, Allamurad Karayev, Luc Rosseau and Peter Davis and there are Jiu Jitsu coaches and Muay Thai coaches and boxing coaches so I have everything I need and the owner Paul Teo has taken very good care of me and helped me a lot.
You are the URCC Featherweight champion but you haven’t defended your title since 2010, when are you likely to defend it next?
Actually I was offered some title defences by the URCC but I was advised to turn them down and now they have an interim champion Ricardo Sapno. I would like to defend my title again and I will fight anyone the URCC asks me to, if they want me to fight Ricardo I can do that.
Honorio Banario, the URCC lightweight champion, recently made his featherweight debut. Would you be interested in a fight with him?
I will fight anyone the One FC or the URCC want me to, if they want me to fight Honorio I can do that.
Is it true you volunteered to fight Tatsuya Kawajiri on the last One FC show?
Yes, I had not fought for a long time and I was ready to fight. I told sir victor I was ready to fight against him and that I am ready to test myself against the best in the world. If he wants me to fight Kiwajiri I will.
The fight with Bae Young Kwon was originally scheduled to take place in Jakarta in February but he fought Honorio Banario instead of you. What did you think of that fight and are you confident you can do better?
I was at that fight and I have wanted to fight him for a long time now. I think Honorio made a small mistake and he got submitted, Bae Young Kwon is a very good fighter I think he is the best in Korea and it is an honour to fight him but I am very confident and I want to show that I am better and also to represent the URCC and Filipino MMA and show that fighters from the Philippines can be better than fighters from Korea.
How much did the win over Mitch Chilson help your career?
Before that no-one outside of the Philippines knew about the natural (his nickname!) but thanks to the onefc now I am quite famous and a lot of people know who I am. When I came to Malaysia everyone said to me ‘we saw your fight against Mitch Chilson’ so I was very happy to win and also to get the submission of the night bonus and to make the URCC proud and make Filipino people proud.
You have been training with AJ Vaa who is facing Mitch Chilson, do you have any predictions for that fight?
Mitch Chilson is a very good fighter, before I thought him I knew it would not be an easy fight and he is very difficult to beat. AJ is strong, good on the ground, it will be a good fight but I have told AJ that he cannot underestimate Mitch because he is very big for a featherweight and has a good ground game and strong Muay Thai.
ONE FC are putting on a card in Manila on September 1st, would you like to be on it?
If Sir Victor can put me on this show then i would be very happy to fight in the Philippines and for all the Filipino fans. Before I thought a lot about my career and who I should fight and when I should fight and I feel I made some mistakes so now I am only going to train and fight and when the onefc or the urcc want me to fight I will be ready, I can fight anyone, any time.