In order for Edward Kelly (10-4) to rise up the ranks, he must defeat an Asian icon.
The native of Baguio City, Philippines has won four of his last five contests, including a TKO victory over Indonesian star Sunoto and a one-punch knockout of Dutch-Indonesian striker Vincent Latoel.
But on Saturday, June 23, the Filipino will face arguably his toughest opponent to date – former ONE Featherweight World Champion Narantungalag Jadambaa (12-5), at ONE: Pinnacle of Power.
The event takes place at the Studio City Event Center in Macau, and a victory against the Mongolian veteran could elevate Kelly to world title contention.
“I am at a great spot in my career, and I am extremely excited to be facing Jadambaa. I cannot wait to test my skills against a former World Champion and a respected veteran in mixed martial arts,” the 34-year-old shared.
“To be honest, Jadambaa is one of the very few peers that I look up to in ONE Championship. He is my idol. He is incredibly tough and durable. But most importantly, he has a big heart. It is an honor for me to compete against him.”
Jadambaa, a grappler known for his immense one-punch knockout power, will return to action for the first time since losing to form ONE Featherweight World Champion Marat “Cobra” Gafurov – the man who taken the belt from him – in their November 2016 rematch.
Since then, the Mongolian has been on the sidelines, but has remained active at the gym – working to add new dimensions to his mixed martial arts arsenal.
At 42 years old, it may appear like he is at the tail end of his glorious career, but the veteran claims he feels “10 years younger” than his actual age, and is motivated to make another run at the gold.
That is just one of the reasons why Kelly is not taking the former world champion lightly. He heavily respects his adversary’s talent, and believes they are evenly matched – for the most part.
“I think Jadambaa is a tremendous striker,” he says. “Although he does have good, solid grappling skills, I still believe his greatest strength is his striking. I am a striker too, so this bout has excitement written all over it. It will all come down to who can impose his will more.
“The only advantage I would have probably is age. I am a little younger than he is, and he has been in more cage wars, so the mileage is there. But in this particular fight, I do not think it will matter. I am expecting an honest, explosive contest between two talented strikers.”
Moreover, with Macau being the fight capital of Asia, the younger brother of Eric Kelly believes that he needs to put on a show to impress.
“I always want to give the fans a good show, so it is important to me to not just win, but win with excitement,” Kelly explains.
“Being that he is the former featherweight world champion, this bout is very significant. I know if I can beat Jadambaa, it will bring me one huge step closer to getting that title shot.”
Photo and story from ONEFC.com
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