As a fighter, no one has a harsher critic than the one that resides in the individual mirror they gaze upon daily. From their most exciting wins to their most crushing losses, fighters and other athletes alike maintain a criticism that is rarely matched by anyone else in their camp. That said, the better athlete is the one that re-sharpens his respective tools to go back and fight another battle. This what makes a person not just a fighter, but a warrior. This is what makes up Eric Kelly.
As one of Asian MMA’s most recognizable personalities, Kelly is an undefeated featherweight fighter from the Philippines who has an amazing pro MMA record of 9-0 (1 TKO, 7 submissions and 1 decision).
This featherweight monster from the Philippines has shown tremendous heart and talent when he defeated a respected fighter in Brad Terrey last December 1st at URCC 22 – DEKADA.
Both Kelly and Terrey gave their best that night but the Filipino fighter proved that he is one of the best fighters in Asia by submitting the American in the 3rd round.
“The Natural’s” next goal is to win the first-ever ONE FC featherweight championship on February 2 in Malaysia against a familiar opponent in Honorio “The Rock” Banario.
MMA Orient: How excited are you to be fighting for the ONE FC World Title?
MMA is my passion and winning the title is my dream. This will be the biggest fight for me because every fighter wants to be a champion and I am URCC champion but ONE FC is the biggest MMA organization in Asia and I want to fight the best and show I am the best in Asia.
MMA Orient: How do you feel about fighting against your fellow Filipino in Honorio Banario?
I prefer to fight a foreigner because I am proud Pinoy and I want to show that fighters from the Philippines are strong and have very good skills but to win the ONE FC belt is a dream for me and I am ready to fight anyone, even my fellow Pinoy. It was a big surprise for me when they told me I would fight with Honorio because we have known each other for many years but I want to test my skills against the best fighters and if the best fighters also are from Baguio then I must fight them if I want to be champion.
MMA Orient: Is it true that you two have trained together in the past?
Yes, before my fight with Mitch Chilson when I was in Baguio I would go to Team Lakay to train sometimes and Honorio was one of my sparring partners so we have sparred together many times. Always in the gym it was a war and we would both have a lot of bruises after even though we wear big gloves and shin pads and the head protection so the fight will be like this. I like to fight with other Wushu fighters because I know they will not be scared to make a striking battle.
MMA Orient: Your win over Jens Pulver was your first ever TKO, and you have seven submission wins. Do you always look to try and finish fights with submissions?
I do not mind if it is submission or knock out but I do not want to go to decision. I have done boxing and Wushu a lot before I started MMA and I like striking but if I have an opportunity for a submission I can do that too. I don’t know why I win by submission so many times, in the future I hope to win more fights by KO but if I can win by submission that is OK and maybe I can get more bonuses from Sir Victor Cui if I do that!
MMA Orient: You live and train in Kuala Lumpur, how much do you enjoy fighting in front of the fans there?
The last time I fight in Malaysia was against Bae Young Kwon and I am not happy with my performance because I won by decision and in my career this is the only time that this has happened. I know I can fight better than that and I want everyone in Malaysia to see what ‘The Natural’ can do, Bae Young Kwon did not want to strike with me but I know Honorio is not scared to have a striking war so this will be a much better fight and I will try to win by submission or KO and make a very exciting fight to say thank you to everyone who has taken care of me since I am living in Malaysia.
MMA Orient: In your last fight your eye was closed and you still fought on to win the fight, how difficult was that?
After the first round I could not see from my eye and the doctor wanted to stop the fight but I had Chef Ro in my corner who is my manager and he is same like a Father to me and he told me that I could win and I must not stop and I knew I could not give up because of all the Pinoy fans who were watching. Thank God nothing was broken and I am ready to start hard training again so that I can win the ONE FC belt on February 2.
MMA Orient: How do you find fighting 10 minute rounds in a ring for the URCC compares to fighting five minute rounds in a cage for ONE FC?
I think it is a big advantage for a fighter to know that you can fight 10 minutes because five minutes is much more easy. Me and Honorio have both fought for 10 minutes many times and have won after fighting a long time and that means we know we can fight very fast in the ONE FC and not have to save energy and wait for later in the fight. That is why the URCC is very good experience, most fighters never fight more than five minutes to the Pinoys have some advantage because of this.
MMA Orient: Do you have any predictions for your fight with Honorio?
I think fight of the night. It will be a war.