Former judoka Daniel Kelly will compete at UFC 193 in Melbourne this weekend. Kelly can’t deny his venture into the UFC has been life-changing but he has tried to remain as grounded as ever. Daniel Kelly was one of the best ever judoka from Australia. He became Oceania champion 7 times between 2002-2012. He represented Australia in judo at four Olympic Games and at several World Championships since 1997.
Kelly witnessed a surge in global recognition since switching to mixed martial arts after the 2012 London Olympics, with his UFC fights beamed to hundreds of millions of people around the globe.
“I went to four Olympics for judo and I get recognised more for the UFC stuff than I did for the Olympics stuff, which is a bit weird. My life has changed a lot, but I try not to change too much about it. I still run a gym and still do all my judo coaching, so it (UFC) is just an extra element.”
Kelly fought with great judoka such as Kosei Inoue (JPN), Liparteliani (GEO), Cho (KOR), Randall (GBR), Gordon (GBR), Honorato (BRA), Izumi (JPN), Morris (USA), Delgado (POR), Taov (RUS), Mammadov (AZE) and many more.
The career switch could not have been much more successful. Kelly has won nine of his 10 fights in the UFC, his only loss coming in his most recent bout against Sam Alvey in May.
“That wasn’t a good day but there’s not much I can do about it now,” the 38-year-old said. I’ve just got to keep going forward and improving. I’ve lost plenty of times in sport in my judo career so it wasn’t the first time.”
Kelly will have a chance to return to the winners’ circle on Saturday when he takes on Steve Montgomery in UFC 193 at Etihad Stadium.
The night marks the first time the UFC has come to Melbourne after a ban on cage fighting in Victoria was lifted earlier this year. For Kelly, that means fighting in front of a home crowd for the first time, something he cannot wait for. “It’s been a long time coming, with a lot of negative press and stuff around the cage. But finally getting out in front of a home crowd will be awesome.”
Also former judoka Ronda Rousey will fight as main menu for UFC 1993 against Australian Holly Holm.