Edward Kelly looks to start the year right for Team Lakay
MANILA, Philippines—Being a member of Team Lakay undoubtedly gives anyone a feeling of pride especially with four ONE World champions fighting under its name.
Eduard Folayang, Geje Eustaquio, Kevin Belingon, and Joshua Pacio all gave the team, and the Philippines, honor when it comes to mixed martial arts.
This grandeur, however, also brings pressure to those who don’t have a gold-plated strap around their waist.
Take for example Edward Kelly, one of the top featherweights in the promotion who will be the first man up for the famed Baguio-based promotion in 2019.
“There’s an added pressure for me to perform and open the year on a high note for Team Lakay,” said Kelly who will face Evolve MMA’s Christian Lee from Singapore. “I am the first to fight this 2019 so I am planning to give it my all when I get inside that cage.”
Kelly’s rematch with Lee is part of the ONE: Eternal Glory card in Jakarta headlined by fellow Team Lakay member and ONE World strawweight champion Joshua Pacio who is defending his belt against Japan’s Yosuke Saruta.
Literally the first fighter from Team Lakay to fight this year, Kelly aims to set the tone for his camp after a banner year.
All four World champions from that camp won their titles in 2018 beginning with Eustaquio who unified the flyweight belts when he beat rival Adriano Moraes in June while Folayang regained his ONE World lightweight belt in November defeating Lee’s teammate Amir Khan for the vacant strap.
“The target is to start the year right for Team Lakay, I want to beat Christian Lee and then hopefully get a crack at the ONE World featherweight title in the near future,” said Kelly, who has to fight Martin Nguyen for the belt if he gets the chance.
Kelly (11-5) is also looking to get a convincing win against Lee (10-3) after their first fight ended in a disqualification of the Singaporean.
Lee put Kelly on a suplex in the first round but the referee deemed the move illegal after the Filipino landed on his head.
“His relentlessness is his strength, but that can also be his weakness,” said Kelly. “I need to pick my shots, maximize my striking and be careful with his takedowns. Should the opening present itself, I am definitely going for a knockout.”
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