Danielle Kelly relishes her trailblazing role in building jiu-jitsu culture

Danielle Kelly, photo by ONE Championship
Danielle Kelly [Photo by ONE Championship]

Danielle Kelly’s work in ONE Championship goes beyond matches and world titles - she wants to change the culture of martial arts altogether.

Alongside Mei Yamaguchi, Danielle Kelly helped launch ONE Championship’s atomweight grappling division last year. She would draw with Yamaguchi and then go on to submit Mariia Molchanova in November.

A world title shot would seem inevitable for Kelly should she pass her next test. As one of the faces of ONE Championship’s grappling division, Kelly understands the weight of that mantle.

Speaking to media outlet The MMA Superfan, Danielle Kelly reflected on her journey so far with ONE:

"I’m at a part of my life right now where I’m making changes, making a first time for everything. I wasn’t really happy with my first match, but the fact that it was the first female grappling match in ONE Championship is a huge accomplishment for me. And it feels like I’m in a spot where I can push the sport, especially for females and little girls, kids. I think it’s given me a lot of outlook in life.

Danielle Kelly is off to a good start with the promotion and has shown buckets of potential.

She’s currently slated to fight Ayaka Miura at ONE Fight Night 7 next month in Bangkok. Miura, a judo specialist, has already competed seven times for ONE Championship in MMA bouts.

ONE Fight Night 7 will be live in North America via Prime Video.

Danielle Kelly reveals her preference between chokes and leg locks

When it comes to finishing a jiu-jitsu match, Danielle Kelly would rather get it over with without having to make opponents suffer.

The recent match between Mikey Musumeci and Gantumur Bayanduuren brought up several debates on the application of leg locks and when to tap out, if at all.

In the same interview with The MMA Superfan, Kelly commented on how she prefers to finish grappling matches:

"And this is why I say a lot too - especially females because we’re really flexible, like our legs and arms sometimes - that I would just go for a choke because...what are you gonna do? You’re gonna fight a choke? You’re just gonna fall asleep, and the match is over. It’s just easier."

Perhaps ONE flyweight submission grappling world champion Mikey Musumeci is having regrets about committing to the leg lock against Bayanduuren. The Mongolian chose to endure multiple injuries rather than tap out to the excruciatingly painful leg-lock attempt from Musumeci.

Of course, Kelly’s preference for chokes doesn’t mean she’s not comfortable attacking the leg; five of her last eight wins have come via some form of leg lock.

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Edited by Virat Deswal
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