Eric “The Natural” Kelly hopes to make it a double celebration for the family when ONE Championshipreturns to Manila’s Mall Of Asia Arena for ONE: ROOTS OF HONOR on Friday, 12 April.
The older Kelly will be taking on “Pretty Boy” Kwon Won Il while his younger brother, Edward, will take on South Korean grappler Sung Jong Lee on the undercard.
Although they are not training together as much as they would like to, Eric is enjoying the little time he gets to work with his brother, no matter how short that time is.
“It’s exciting because we’re fighting on the same card,” he said. “Sometimes we train together, but not all the time because it’s very rare that I visit him.”
Eric considers himself a “lone wolf” when it comes to his training, as he prefers jumping from one gym to another to prepare for his matches. Edward, on the other hand, is with the storied Team Lakay in Baguio City, where he has experienced great success of his own.
Though they’re training apart, Eric is certainly proud of his brother.
“I am very happy for Edward because he’s with Team Lakay, the strongest stable in the country when it comes to the sport of mixed martial arts,” said Kelly.
“Edward will do whatever he can, and he’ll do his best to make sure that he delivers.”
For his part, Eric is looking to come back from a debilitating five-bout skid, which has turned him from one of the best in the featherweight division to a struggling warrior looking to end a slump.
“The Natural” will get that chance against Kwon, who is coming off a loss against Masakazu Imanari in February.
While things have not been too good for Kelly lately, he believes there is light at the end of every tunnel. He is just hoping that it happens under the bright lights of the Mall Of Asia Arena.
“I’m just happy for the opportunity given to me to perform in my home country. There’s pressure and uncertainty in this match because it’s in front of my kababayans,” he said.