RIGHT smack in the middle of a telling slide in his mixed martial arts career, Filipino fighter Eric “The Natural” Kelly cannot wait to get back on the winning track and is hoping such would come on Saturday in Jakarta, Indonesia, at ONE Championship’s “Grit and Glory” event.
One of the top fighters in the land, Mr. Kelly, 36, has hit a serious rough patch of late, having lost four straight matches that has considerably pulled down his stock as a contender.
His last defeat came at the hands of Brazilian Rafael Nunes by way of submission (Brabo Choke) in the second round here in Manila in January.
The Baguio-based fighter has not won a fight since defeating Japanese Hiroshige Tanaka by unanimous decision in October 2015.
Mr. Kelly recognizes that he is coming into his fight with Japan’s Tetsuya Yamada in their three-round catchweight bout in Grit and Glory sans the winning momentum but nonetheless is ready armed with the lessons his recent defeats have afforded him.
“I am taking it as a lesson. I have accepted the fact that I am in a bad spot, but I am taking all those experiences as lessons and inspecting them for my future matches,” said Mr. Kelly, who racked up three straight victories prior to his four-fight slide.
“I want to show to those who believe in me that I can make it not just for myself, but for all. I want this victory so bad. I really want to go back home as the winner,” he added.
Mr. Kelly was quick to say, however, that victory would not come on a silver platter for him, especially against an opponent like Mr. Yamada, who is younger at 28 years old and raring to make his way up the ONE Championship ranks.
Nonetheless, the Filipino fighter said he will take the challenge head-on and do everything he can to see his cause through.
“It’s a good match-up for me. My opponent is no pushover because Yamada has a good ground game and a decent stand-up. I really want to get this win more than ever. No one can deny my eagerness to win,” said Mr. Kelly.
Mr. Kelly has a 12-5 record while Mr. Yamada is sporting a 22-6 card.
Headlining ONE: Grit and Glory at the Jakarta Convention Center is the world strawweight title fight between champion Alex Silva of Brazil against Japanese contender and former champion Yoshitaka Naito.
Also seeing action in the event is Filipino women’s atomweight Rome Trinidad against hometown bet Priscilla Hertati Lumban Gaol. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo