10-14-2008, 10:39 PM
Join Date: Sep 2008
| | Paul Kelly survives gruesome crash
Paul Kelly survives gruesome crash
Now a UFC fighter
By Neil Davidson, THE CANADIAN PRESS
Paul Kelly reckons it’s a miracle he’s walking, let alone fighting in the UFC.
He was 12 when a joy-riding trip on a motorcycle ended in a gruesome crash.
“I actually blew my leg off, if you can believe that,” the Liverpool native explains in his thick “Scouser” accent. “I’ve got pictures.”
“I was actually in bed, in hospital, for six months on my back. I snapped my femur, had 800 stitches and whatever else. And I say this to everybody, in full confidence, it’s the worst scar you’ve ever seen in your life. . . . I often pretend it’s a shark bite because it looks exactly like a shark bite.”
Now 24, the unbeaten mixed martial arts fighter takes on American welterweight Marcus (The Irish Hand Grenade) Davis on Saturday at UFC 89 in Birmingham, England.
The injury sustained years ago is actually a positive in the cage. From the knee up, in areas where he endured a raft of skin grafts, his left leg is numb. Kick it and he won’t feel it — although he will probably spend a few days on the couch with a swollen leg after the fight because of the internal bleeding caused by the kicks.
The Kelly camp had previously kept the peculiarity of his leg secret, to keep UFC 80 opponent Paul Taylor in the dark.
“We thought Paul was going to come out and kick the leg. It sort of gives me the advantage if my opponent kicks my leg. Which is why we’ve never really told anybody about it, we sort of kept it a secret. But I suppose it makes a good story so why not. We’ve always intended on the opponent kicking the leg so I don’t have to check it. I don’t have to lift the knee and check it. I can take the kick when it’s on the leg.”
Kelly (8-0) survived Taylor’s early buzzsaw standup attack, eventually taking him down and using his effective ground and pound to wear out his opponent and win his UFC debut in January.
Outside the ring, the leg can be an issue. He got into bed recently and felt something unusual on his leg.
“I thought there was a creature on my leg. And I jumped out of bed. And as I looked down, I had a blister six inches by six inches and it was like a cushion of fluid. And I didn’t even know I had done that. It’s crazy.”
Turned out he had burned himself cooking that evening and didn’t even know it.
The motorcycle accident ripped open Kelly’s leg. When he sat up, he saw the skin had been blown off his leg, which was splayed to the side. The bone was sticking out.
“I could see every part of my leg and I started picking leaves and mud out of my leg, out of the inside of my leg. You could fit a suitcase in there. My leg was just wide open just like a chicken leg if you slice right down and it bursts open.”
“My (younger) brother’s screaming ‘Oh you’re going to die, you’re going to die.’”
Kelly was completely calm — he still doesn’t know if was the shock — and managed to get his brother to go for help. He remembers asking the paramedic if he was going to lose his leg and then doctors telling him he would walk with a limp — if he could walk.
Kelly proved everybody wrong.
A self-described “scrappy kid,” he had tried to do a little boxing when he was younger.
“But I was always a fat child, so I was always too heavy to fight,” he said.
Still he enjoyed fighting and, as he got older, began to veer towards combat sports.
“I think we found each other, me and mixed martial arts,” he added.
Kelly made his pro debut in October 2005 and soon found he had a knack for the ground and pound side of the game. He started training and auditioned for Season 3 of “The Ultimate Fighter” that fellow Brit Michael Bisping eventually won.
Kelly came close but didn’t make the cast. But he somehow managed to get a look at his tryout report card which said “great wrestling, good striking.”
“And I had never wrestled in my life. It just comes natural to me.”
A former 185-pounder — “I was just a little fattie at middleweight” — Kelly takes pride in putting on a show for the fans.
“My whole aspect towards fighting is just to be exciting,” he said. “It’s not to win or lose. I know it sounds crazy but look at your Wanderlei Silvas. That lad’s never going to be out of a job, simply because he’s exciting to watch. I’ve just been lucky with my fights so far that I’ve won them all. I’ve got a big heart and a big pair of gonads, so I go at it.”
Kelly trains at the same Wolfslair gym as Bisping and proudly wears its name in ink on his back. While a finger injury delayed his return to the cage this year, he focuses on MMA to the exclusion of almost everything else.
He starts off the day with a run or a swim, then heads to the gym. Then it’s eat, sleep, train, eat and sleep.
“That’s my daily routine. I don’t see anybody, I don’t see any other human being other than the people I train with. Which is hard now. I just had a baby, you see. A little girl (Phoebe Rose) four months ago and I’m missing out a little bit on that, but what do you do?”
He plans a vacation with his girlfriend and daughter after the Davis fight, which Kelly expects to be a barnburner.
“I think he’s a really good, powerful, explosive, fast opponent. I mean in every aspect — his hands, he’s got a sledgehammer in both hands. His ground work’s really good, he’s fast and explosive. So it’s a good fight. . . .
“I’ve got a strong head. I have a head of concrete everyone always says, so hopefully my chin will hold out but you know I’m sure he and Marcus will make fight of the night.”
Kelly, who won fight of the night honours for the Taylor win, also hopes the showdown with Davis (19-5) will prove a point.
“This is a real good opportunity for me to say to the world ‘Look, that wasn’t a fluke the first time. It hasn’t been a fluke for the first eight fights and I’m a contender.’”
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