It’s safe to say Daniel Kelly is a humble mixed martial arts (MMA) competitor.
You won’t catch Kelly badmouthing his UFC 209 opponent Rashad Evans. The four-time judo Olympian will meet the former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight title holder on March 4 inside the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Kelly may be relatively new to the sport of MMA, but his age is that of a seasoned veteran. At the age of 39, Kelly is hoping to earn the biggest win of his professional fighting career and make his debut on the official UFC rankings.
The Australian judoka was a recent guest on Luke Thomas’ SiriusXM radio show (via his official YouTube channel). Despite pushing 40, Kelly insists his body is going strong:
“In terms of new injuries, there’s no new injuries. It’s just the ones that I’ve had for the last five to ten years that’ll never go away. I can’t do as heavy a load in terms of the number of sessions I do in a week, but I feel as good as I have in the last couple of years now. I’m happy to keep going.”
Evans is no spring chicken himself. On top of being 37, “Suga” has had 25 professional MMA bouts. Not to discredit the wear and tear Kelly went through in judo, but Evans has been trading bombs with the best fighters on earth for over a decade.
Kelly believes a key factor in this fight could be how Evans responds to his first cut down to 185 pounds.
“I think he’ll tire a little bit quicker. No matter how fit you are, this is his first cut to middleweight especially being older. And we’ll see how he’s affected by the weight cut. I expect the same guy, you always expect to fight the Rashad who won the title kinda thing. I’m an older athlete too. I know how hard it is to cut weight, to do all the training while you’re cutting weight. It’ll be interesting.”