The biggest event in the history of Filipino MMA is set for Friday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Manila and Baguio born fighter Eric Kelly is all set to take on former UFC lightweight champion Jens Pulver.
Kelly is a URCC champion and is unbeaten in his MMA career with seven wins out of seven. He is an early contender for the ONE FC featherweight belt and believes if he can beat Pulver his next fight could be for a title,
“To be ONE FC champion is my dream, it is the biggest MMA promotion in Asia and I want to show that I am the best featherweight in Asia. I am expecting a very difficult fight against Pulver because he is a very famous fighter and that makes me a little bit nervous.”
After watching Pulver fight for the UFC numerous times Kelly will be stepping inside the cage with someone he has previously only seen on TV and he admits that this has taken some getting used to,
“It is different from my normal fights, I always fight against strong opponents but I am not used to fighting anyone as famous as Pulver. Once we are in the cage I think I will forget about him being a UFC champion and just focus on doing my job.”
Kelly has been doing his job very well so far, he has never lost a fight and submitted his first six opponents, winning the URCC featherweight belt in the process. Twice he has fought for ONE FC and he has emerged victorious both times, submitting Mitch Chilson in Singapore last September and then outpointing Bae Young Kwon in Malaysia in June.
Kwon was ranked as the best featherweight in Korean and that fight was the first time Kelly had ever been to a decision. Even though he beat one of the top fighters in Asia he was still not happy with his performance,
“I want to finish fights because if you don’t then anything can happen with the judges. Kwon is a very good fighter but I was disappointed because I wanted to submit him or knock him out, I hope to do that in my next fight.”
After establishing himself as one of the stars of the URCC Kelly has been making waves since signing for ONE FC. He fought in front of 7,000 fans in Singapore, 8,000 fans in Malaysia and 16,500 fans are expected to pack the Smart Araneta Coliseum at ONE FC: ‘Pride of a Nation’.
After years of unfulfilled promises by the UFC which repeatedly claimed it was on the verge of holding an event in Manila ONE FC has stepped in to fill the void and fight fans in Manila have responded by flocking to buy tickets in droves.
It puts a lot of pressure on the Filipino fighters and Kelly, who has not competed in the Philippines since 2010, is aware of how important this next fight will be,
“I am very happy that so many Pinoys will be there to support me and I promise to fight my hardest and to do everything to win this fight. I am proud to represent the Philippines when I fight and I want to do very well so that everyone will remember the name ‘Eric Kelly’.”
The Smart Araneta Coliseum has played host to top Filipino fighters such as Nonito Donaire and Manny Pacquiao as well as the ‘Thrilla in Manila’ when Ali fought Frazier. On August 31st Asia’s most prestigious MMA promotion is coming to town and Kelly will be looking to follow in the footsteps of these boxing legends by making a name for himself inside the cage.