ONE Championship’s Submission Grappling Queen Danielle Kelly And Her Potential Jump To MMA

This past September at ONE Fight Night 14, Danielle Kelly not only made another addition to her long list of grappling accolades, but she also made history with ONE Championship in the process.

ONE Fight Night 14 went down at the Singapore Indoor Stadium and was broadcast live on Amazon Prime Video for the North American viewership. The card featured a main event 115-pound MMA title bout between Stamp Fairtex and Ham Seo-hee, preceded by Smilla Sundell and Allycia Rodrigues battling for the 125-pound Muay Thai world title.

Adding to the significance of the event, and the all around talent on display, the featured bout of the evening pit Danielle Kelly versus Jessa Khan in a 10-minute submission grappling match to determine the inaugural ONE Championship 115-pound Submission Grappling world titleholder. While the match would wind up seeing a judges’ decision, Kelly’s strategic attacks, intelligent defense, and unmatchable endurance lead to a strong victory for the New Jersey based Philadelphia native.

In just her fourth showing on the ONE stage, Kelly made company history as the first female Submission Grappling world champion.

Prior to signing with ONE, Kelly was involved with all the popular Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Grappling organizations including Quintet Ultra, Submission Hunter Pro, Who’s #1, and Fury Pro Grappling. In 2018, Kelly achieved her first title, the 125-pound championship at Rise Invitational 3. She then went on to secure a toe-hold victory over UFC flyweight Roxanne Modafferi at the Submission Hunter Pro tournament’s 2020 130-pound final.


Since becoming a champion with ONE, Kelly has been quite vocal regarding how she enjoys the grappling world, but is confident that she will eventually transition to MMA. Luckily, she is with one of the most powerful MMA promotions in the world, who surely would embrace the transition.

“I still have to prove myself a lot in jiu-jitsu,” Kelly told MMA Junkie. “If I make the jump to MMA right away, I won’t feel I’m complete. Some things will have to be negotiated, but when that time comes, I’ll be ready just whenever that is, but right now I’m focused on jiu-jitsu.”

“When I become a world champion, when I beat more legends, then maybe I’ll make the walk over,” Kelly said. “Eventually I want to (transition to MMA) because that’s why I signed up to jiu-jitsu in the first place, because I was getting bullied. It wasn’t as popular when I started, but now women’s jiujitsu and MMA is a lot more popular.”


Following a draw in her opening match with ONE, Kelly had an electrifying performance to produce her first win with the company. She made quick work of Russian Sambo competitor Mariia Molchanova with an aggressive first round submission. This opened the eyes of many fans who were not familiar with Kelly’s grappling past, and gave them a chance to appreciate the kind of talent that is being dealt with in ONE Championship.

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