by Lee Whitehead – MMAWeekly.com
Paul Kelly is in San Diego for UFC on Versus 2, acclimatizing to the Californian weather, dumping jetlag to the wayside before his fight against an opinionated Jacob Volkmann – a fighter who, for no apparent reason, has opted to try and goad the Liverpudlian with comments to the press about his apparent “lack of power.”
Kelly isn’t biting. He’s too experienced for any of that nonsense, preferring instead to be the strong silent type.
“I think (Volkmann) is just trying to drum up some interest in the fight,” he exclaimed nonchalantly. “Maybe he is trying to bring out a new persona. He’s a legit fighter. I guess now he is coming out of his shell, but I don’t see this as being any different than what all fighters are doing now. This isn’t the WWE you know; I don’t have to be fake about anything”
True to form, Kelly maintains that he just wants to go out and fight. This is his job, his way of earning a living so that he can provide for his family. It’s the best way he knows of earning a living. He just wants to go out there, have tough fights, be exciting, and know that he did everything he could to provide for the ones he loves.
“For all the talk, I just hope that it doesn’t become a boring fight. Nothing could be worse for me than having someone try and lay on top of me for 15 minutes doing nothing. I am going to do everything I can to make it exciting for the fans.”
Smack talk, hyperbole and all the propaganda all wash over Kelly. He doesn’t understand why people insist on letting their mouths write cheques their bodies can’t cash.
“This isn’t a swipe at Volkmann, it’s a view in general. You don’t see tennis players, golfers, or any of those sportsmen calling each other out. Maybe because of the talk people still don’t see us as legit sportsmen,” explains Kelly before adding that his views won’t diminish his approach in the Octagon.
“Don’t get me wrong, I am nobody’s friend till after the fight. I just have bad intentions in there, no quarter, that’s just the way I am. There have been times when I have shown too much respect and look what it got me, (Dennis) Siver and (Marcus) Davis being examples, twice bitten, no more…”
Kelly’s frame of mind even carries over to the guys he trains with at Team Kaobon.
“They laugh at me because I don’t touch gloves when we spar. I just get into that mindset. They are all good friends, but we’re not there to be friends, we’re there as weapons to be sharpened.”
Getting to San Diego has been a fight in itself with Kelly facing a few personal issues back at home, visa troubles and a multitude of other things. Now that they are all behind him, he is looking forward to starting a new chapter in his life.
The move to Kaobon from the Wolfslair has been, in Kelly’s opinion, the most positive of his career. He intends to show that the dragon inside him is finally finding a way out, symbolic as ever, this representation now shows on his skin too. Gone is his old Wolfslair back tattoo, replaced with the Japanese representation of power, wisdom, and freedom.
“I would never say anything bad about Mario and the guys there, but I am representing Kaobon now and I needed to make the whole change. I feel I am embraced here. I am so much more technical, analytical, and relaxed than I used to be. Before I was 100 percent full-on, now I am more of a thinking man’s fighter and I think it will show in this fight,” he explained.
When all is said and done, and when the main event fight hits the canvas, he wants people back home to look at patches of blood on the canvas and ask themselves if it was Kelly who put them there. Win or lose, he plans on bringing his best when the cage door slams.