‘It’s very humiliating’ – BJJ star Danielle Kelly talks MMA training, tips from Buchecha


Danielle Kelly exploded into ONE Championship with an impressive submission grappling performance that earned her a US$50,000 bonus from CEO Chatri Sityodtong.

But while she’s one of the best BJJ competitors on the planet, the American is also considering getting into mixed martial arts.

So far, Kelly has only shown her world-class ground skills in the promotion.

While her match with Japanese veteran Mei Yamaguchi at ONE X officially ended in a draw, the 26-year-old dominated the action and went close on several submission attempts.

The BJJ black belt will continue to compete in grappling contests only, but she’s adding to her full game for potential change in the future – and she already has some of her bases covered.

Kelly said:

“I started wrestling after I joined jiu-jitsu, about six months later. I wrestled until my senior year or freshman year in college. I was doing folkstyle in school and I was freestyling outside because I was planning on going to college for freestyle.

The striking part of MMA — and mixing all the elements together — is still relatively new to Kelly, though she’s getting more familiar with it day by day.

The American is spending time with elite sparring partners to ensure she is prepared and confident when she finally dons the 4-ounce mixed martial arts gloves in the circle.

At the same time, she admits the process has been eye-opening.

Kelly said:

“I did my [MMA] course right now. I went back to sparring. It’s very humbling, just because the girls I train with, they’re in other organizations, some of them are top 10 – and they’re really good at jiu-jitsu too.

“It’s going to be tough for me if I face someone who has a [striking] Context. I have to learn to defend or strike. So that’s where I’m still putting the pieces of the puzzle together. But it gives me hope. I just have to stay humble and not think that just because I’m good at grappling, I’m going to beat everyone.

Buchecha offered advice to Danielle Kelly on switching to MMA

When it comes to transitioning from submission grappling to MMA, Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida is certainly an expert.

The legendary 17-time BJJ World Champion entered the full sport last year, and he earned dominant first-round finishes in all four appearances despite fierce competition.

This incredible transition showcased the power of elite grappling in mixed martial arts, and Danielle Kelly was lucky enough to get some advice from the rising heavyweight contender.

She told ONEFC.com

“We spoke briefly when we were in Los Angeles. He told me he was a little nervous at first. It was new for him because he is used to jiu-jitsu and gi. He was just telling me that it’s still new, but over time it’s a bit like jiu-jitsu. You get used to wrestling by doing sparring rounds, so you can get used to MMA.

“The more you practice, the more you get used to being punched in the face and standing fighting technique – because everything changes once you get punched in the face.”


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