MANILA, Philippines – As Edward “The Ferocious” Kelly continues his impressive rise in ONE Championship’s stacked featherweight division, Filipino MMA veteran Eric “The Natural” Kelly can’t help but feel impressed at his younger brother’s winning streak in the promotion.
Edward scored three huge victories inside the ONE Championship cage last year, opening his 2016 campaign with a come-from-behind submission win over the erstwhile unbeaten John Lucas of Australia in March.
He then knocked out Dutch-Indonesian journeyman Vincent Latoel in the second round of their bout five months later, and capped his campaign with a third round stoppage of Indonesia’s Sunoto in December.
Eric, who is two years older than Edward, is very proud of his brother’s recent accomplishments, and commends the latter’s ability to overcome adversity, as well as his determination to develop as a competitor in the sport.
Prior to his three-fight winning streak, Edward had a shaky start to his ONE Championship career, losing to Brazilian contender Herbert “The Blaze” Burns by way of 44-second submission in December 2013 and then suffering a first-round knockout defeat to Malaysian-Kiwi sensation Ev Ting in October 2014.
Although Edward bounced back by submitting compatriot Jimmy Yabo in April 2015, he yielded to hard-hitting Australian stalwart Martin Nguyen via doctor stoppage seven months later.
Edward erased the harsh memories of his painful setbacks by defeating three high-profile opponents in 2016.
“I am so proud of him. It is impressive because despite the losses, he was able to improve and bounce back with three big wins. I am happy that he is reaping the fruits of his labor,” Eric said of Edward.
The Kelly brothers find themselves in opposite situations in their MMA careers now. While Edward is on the rise, Eric is reeling from a three-match losing skid.
The older Kelly bowed to Tingvia third-round submission in January 2016 before falling to Mongolian kickboxer Jadambaa Narantungalag via 44-second knockout in July 2016.
Eric’s quest to return to the win column was spoiled by Japanese legend Kotetsu “No Face” Boku last August 5, when the former ONE lightweight champion scored a third round stoppage against the Filipino veteran.
“I really feel disappointed with what happened. I was really prepared for my bout against Kotetsu Boku, but there are things that are beyond our control,” said Kelly.
“I am fine and no harm done. But I cannot deny that I am disappointed. I have to accept the outcome. It is a hard lesson for me, but I will be back as an improved and better fighter,” he guaranteed.
Eric, who is widely regarded as one of the most talented products of the established Philippine martial arts scene, sees a bright future ahead of Edward and does not mind losing the spotlight to his younger brother as both of them compete in ONE Championship’s 70.3-kilogram weight class.
“I see a bright future in his professional martial arts career. Edward should keep on striving. It’s his moment,” he said.
Moreover, Edward’s recent success in ONE Championship fuels Eric’s desire to get back on the winning track.
“His wins in ONE Championship motivate me. It keeps me motivated and aware that I have to seriously focus on my improvement as a competitor inside that cage,” Eric said.
“Right now, I need some little time for myself and think about what happened, but it won’t be long because I want to get back inside the cage and redeem myself. I won’t throw in the towel that easy. I have to go back to the drawing board and address the problem. There are still a lot left in me,” he added.
After eight months of waiting for a call to compete again, Edward returns to action as he is set to duke it out with promotion newcomer Emilio “The Honey Badger” Urrutia of the United States on the undercard of ONE: Quest for Greatness in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 18 August.
Eric is confident that Edward will have his hand raised against Urrutia, who won two-straight matches in 2016.
“You can see Edward’s improvement every time he steps inside the cage. He always brings in something new. I am super confident that he will walk out victorious,” said Eric.
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