Press Release courtesy of Bellator Fighting Championships
A Miami-Dade County firefighter is among eight local Florida-based mixed martial artists who will get their chance on the big stage this Thursday during Bellator Fighting Championships’ Season 2 kick-off show at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla.

John Kelly, a 31-year-old married father of three from North Miami, is undefeated in four fights since making his pro debut last February and attributes much of his success to his training as a firefighter.

“Fighting fires and fighting in a cage are actually very, very similar experiences,” Kelly said. “When you’re in a dark room and you can’t see anything and its 300 or 400 degrees, every sense that you have is telling you to get out of there. It’s the same thing in the cage. There’s times when it would make a lot of sense just to give up and tap out, but all the training that you go through and dedicate yourself to tells you to keep going.”

The unique work schedule that firefighters keep (Kelly works one 24-hour shift and then has two days off) also allow him to maintain a full-time training regimen while supporting his family.

“I’m very lucky because fighting is my passion and I don’t think I could fight and be competitive and still support my family if I wasn’t a firefighter,” he said. “So now I’m just trying to keep winning and see where it takes me. Bellator is a dream come true for me, to be fighting for a great organization like this is just surreal.”

Kelly will put his perfect record on the line versus Port St. Lucie’s Michael Byrnes, Jr., (1-2-1) during the local main event of Thursday night’s show.

The event will also feature four nationally televised first round bouts in Bellator’s eight-man single-elimination lightweight and featherweight tournaments.

Other local feature fights include:

– American Top Team product Chris Manuel (6-3-2) of Coconut Creek, Fla., versus former University of Iowa all-American wrestler Ralph Acosta (5-4) of Orlando, Fla.;

– Local graphic designer and MMA rising star Moyses Gabin (4-2) of Hollywood, Fla., versus veteran karate expert and local martial arts instructor Jeff Savoy (0-1) of Port St. Lucie, Fla.; and

– Francisco Soares (3-1) of Miami, Fla., versus Vagner Rocha (3-0) of Pembroke Pines,, Fla., in a battle between two Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialists.

The evening’s nationally televised tournament fights include:

– MMA superstar and former Sports Illustrated cover subject Roger Huerta (20-3-1) vs. undefeated Cincinnati brawler Chad Hinton in the First Round of Bellator’s lightweight tournament;

– Former pro soccer star Georgi Karakhanyan (12-1-1) vs. MMA veteran Bao Quach (17-9-1) in a First Round matchup in the eight-man featherweight tournament;

– Former World Champion Greco-Roman wrestler Joe Warren (2-1) vs. Midwestern veteran Eric Marriott (17-2) in another featherweight tournament First Round matchup;

– Scandinavian strong man Janne Tulirinta (12-3) vs. former all-American college wrestler Carey Vanier in the first round of the Lightweight tournament.

Each of the tournament bouts will be broadcast live on FOX Sports Net nationwide and will be featured during weekly Saturday-night Bellator highlight shows on NBC and Telemundo.

Bellator will bring four of Bellator’s nationally televised events – including its Season 2 and 3 premieres – to the Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, Fla., during 2010.

Under the terms of this agreement, Hard Rock Live will host the following Bellator events:

– Bellator 13 (Season 2 premiere), April 8, 2010;
– Bellator 22, June 10, 2010;
– Bellator 25 (Season 3 premiere), Aug. 12, 2010; and
– Bellator 36 (Season 3 finale), Oct. 28, 2010.

Bellator Fighting Championships’ nationally televised events feature a combination of tournament and non-tournament bouts. There will be four simultaneous tournaments taking place in each season in the featherweight (145 lbs.), lightweight (155 lbs.), welterweight (170 lbs.) and middleweight (185 lbs.) divisions. Winners of this year’s tournaments will be declared No. 1 contenders to Bellator’s current roster of champions.