Veteran Eric Kelly urges younger Pinoy fighters to remain humble

Santino Honasan on Aug 04, 2017 03:04 PM
Eric Kelly urges younger Pinoy fighters to remain humble
“Maipapayo ko sa kanila, hindi lalaki ulo nila.” - Eric Kelly on younger Filipino fighters (Photo courtesy of ONE Championship)

At 35 years old, Eric Kelly is already among the ‘elder statesmen’, so to say, of Filipino mixed martial arts.

The Baguio City native began his career in 2009, racking up eight straight victories, and at one point was considered as one of, if not the best homegrown Pinoy mixed martial artist.

In recent years however, Kelly has taken a dip in terms of his career trajectory, being on the shelf for over a year after suffering back-to-back defeats.

During that time, a handful of talented young Pinoy fighters have taken ONE Championship and the Asian MMA scene by storm.

Up-and-comers like Joshua Pacio, Danny Kingad of Team Lakay have established themselves  as must-see prospects, while guys like Chris Hofmann and CJ de Tomas have also made waves in their respective promotions.

The success of these young Pinoy warriors have served as motivation for Kelly, who used to be in their position: young, hungry, and on a roll. 

“Oo, nakita ko yung mga bagong fighters ngayon, iba eh. Kaya ayun, sana ipagpatuloy nila.”

But with swift success comes the ugly reality of unwanted distractions and uncontrollable egos, and being a veteran of the game, Kelly has some words of advice for this new generation of Pinoy prize fighters.

“Maipapayo ko sa kanila, hindi lalaki ulo nila.” Kelly said. “Kasi na experience ko to nung kasagsagan nung aking career bilang isang MMA fighter. Nung straight yung mga pagkapanalo ko noon, tapos yung mga next fight ko, parang nag-easy ako sa mga training ko, parang lumaki ulo ko.”

Humility has always been a commendable trait among Filipino athletes. World champions like Manny Pacquiao and Eduard Folayang have always been examples of humility inside the ring, humble in victory and gracious in defeat. Kelly hopes that the new breed remains that way.

“Sana always stay profile sila, and then pag halimbawa, straight yung mga pagkapanalo nila, sana hindi babale-walain yung mga next fight nila [kahit] palagi silang nananalo.”

As Kelly watches his juniors succeed, he too, attempts to rejuvenate his career as he returns to the ONE Championship cage on Saturday against former ONE champion Kotetsu Boku at the CotaiArena in Macau.

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