With two thrilling matches in ONE Championship already and an extensive resume at the highest levels of competition, the United States native has firmly established herself as a must-see athlete.
As Kelly prepares for her third appearance in the world’s largest martial arts organization and targets a potential World Title shot in 2023, let’s break down what makes her such an entertaining competitor.
#1 She Attacks With A Wide Range Of Submissions
Always hunting for a finish, the Philadelphia-bred star doesn’t discriminate between submission types.
On paper, Kelly might seem like a leg lock specialist, with many of her most significant victories coming from lower-body attacks. But looking closer, she has a wide variety of leg submissions under her belt, including heel hooks, kneebars, and straight ankle locks.
Leg locks aren’t all she can do, though, as Kelly tends to take the quickest path toward a submission, whatever that may be.
#2 She Has Excellent Takedowns
Even though the 27-year-old owns one of the sport’s most feared guard games, that doesn’t mean she can’t wrestle.
In fact, Kelly has shown to be more than capable of controlling and dictating the match on her feet thanks to her time wrestling alongside the boys in high school and her diligent takedown training since then.
Again, the American always aims to end matches quickly, so we often see her pulling guard. But more often than not, she plays from her guard simply because that is the path of least resistance and the fastest route to a submission.
#3 Her Endless Gas Tank
While it’s true that she prefers to score a fast submission, Kelly also possesses the world-class endurance to grapple at a torrid pace from start to finish.
In addition to her numerous victories by submission, the Karel Pravec black belt owns several overtime wins against elite competition, proving that she can use her cardio and pacing as a weapon to wear down her opponent as the match drags on.
Kelly’s seemingly endless gas tank was on full display in her ONE Championship debut against MMA legend Mei Yamaguchi. In that contest, she never once slowed her attacks or showed any signs of fatigue, grappling at a furious rate for 12 full minutes.
Although she wasn’t able to secure the submission on the veteran, Kelly’s fan-friendly, action-packed style earned her a US$50,000 performance bonus.