The 37-year old fell to Chinese up-and-comer Niu Kang Kang via Unanimous Decision after a gruelling three-round bout.
The loss was Kelly’s seventh in a row, the latest in a losing streak that has dated back to 2016.
Kelly explains that a cut caused by an accidental headbutt in training had a hand in taking him out of his striking game. A single jab from Niu was all it took to open the cut back up.
“Yung laban ko sa Shanghai, siguro talagang naka-destined na naman na hindi ako manalo kay Niu Kang Kang,” Kelly said. “Kasi three days before we travelled papuntang Shanghai, na-accidental headbutt cut ako dito sa isang parte ng left eye ko.”
“Natamaan lang ng isang jab at nag-open agad ulit yung sugat kaya nasira ng kaunti yung stand-up fight ko at napupunta na ako sa ground,” he continued.
Still, Kelly remained active even on his back with hopes of getting some shots in and scoring points. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough as Niu escaped with the decision win.
“Hindi ako tumigil sa pag-susuntok kahit na nasa-ground ako, para maka-earn sana ng points at damage, pero nasa judges ang decisions and we have to accept and respect that.”
This recent losing skid is the longest of Kelly’s career, and while he was able to put up a good fight in his loss to Kang, that wasn’t the case in his other six losses, which all came via stoppage.
The extended losing streak, Kelly admits, has caused him to seriously consider hanging his gloves up.
“Yes, I have seven straight losses, kaya sobrang pagka-dismaya ko sa sarili ko as an MMA athlete, at sumasagi na sa isipan ko ang pagre-retire,” Kelly said.
External factors, Kelly reveals, have become a factor in his lack of focus in training, which in turn has manifested in his lackluster performances inside the cage.
Stilll, Kelly remains grateful for the people around him who have reached out to help and who continue to believe in him.
“Nagpapa-salamat ako na marami parin akong kaibigan na gusto tumulong at mga naniniwala pa sa akin,” Kelly expressed.
Before truly calling it a career, Kelly says that he would like to, maybe one last time, have his hands raised in victory.
“Sa mga fans na sumusuporta, maraming salamat po sa inyo. Siguro kung wala yung mga words nila na positive, baka susuko na ako.”
“Gusto ko pa kasi makamit ang panalo bago siguro matuloy yung pag-reretire na sumasagi na sa isipan ko.”
One final win would be a nice way for Kelly to put a stamp in his storied mixed martial arts career.
In 20 professional mixed martial arts bouts, Kelly has amassed a 12-8 record and has notable wins over the likes of Mitch Chilson, Rob Lisita, and former UFC world champion Jens Pulver.