Probably voted most competitive back in high school, Chad Kelly is gunning for his fifth professional win on March 31st, as he meets an undefeated Richie Santiago at CES MMA 42 in Rhode Island.
“I wanted to be a boxer as a kid, not do MMA. Then, I just got into this.”
Kelly first started training MMA in 2009, after watching UFC 100: Brock Lesnar vs Frank Mir with a group of friends. Kelly wasn’t a fan of mixed martial arts at the time. Four years later, he made his professional MMA debut against Jared Sarno. Since then, he’s gone 4-3.
Growing up with aggression and constantly getting in trouble, MMA became an outlet and a huge influence in Kelly’s life. “It calms me out,” said Kelly when asked why he fights. Fast forward to now, he’s days away from a chance at putting away one of the promotion’s golden boys. “Every fight is big. I like spoiling the party. All his [Santiago] fights have been for CES. There’s hype around him, he’s good, but his record is padded,” says Kelly. Chad is most certainly not underestimating or taking away from what his opponent has done in the sport, however, he feels that he’s a step up for Santiago.
Although winning is always the goal, there’s more effort than just training leading up to the fight. At this level of fighting, there are more that many may fail to see.
The good, the bad, and the ugly of training MMA
Showing up is the easy part in this sport, whether you want to believe it or not. Professional fighters like Kelly often work full-time jobs to support their dream. “The tough part is trying to fit training six to seven days a week,” says Kelly, “I work full-time at a lumber yard, travel an hour to work and then 30 minutes to the gym and back.” Unlike most fighters, Kelly isn’t able to train eight hours in a day. Usually, fighters who are able to support themselves through MMA, are able to break up their training sessions.
“I don’t get morning training. I go to Springfield and all over the East to train, so travel time sucks.”
In Kelly’s situation, fitting three to four hours in a session is all that he’s able to do, because on top of working full-time, he also teaches classes. As for the weight cutting, that’s even harder while working a full-time job, and Chad loves his Pop-Tarts.
The weight cutting
Unless you’re fighting for a big organization, cutting weight while having to work full-time is a struggle. This is the reason why Kelly decided to move up in weight. “The last couple of times I fought at flyweight, I was drained. Now, I don’t have to torture myself,” says Kelly.
Regardless of all the struggles, Kelly still manages to keep his head in the game for the sport he’s grown to love. Through the meniscus tear leading to knee surgery, to beating Marvin Maldonado at Mohegan Sun in the second round via knockout, “Machine Gun” has truly been through the highs and lows of the sport.
Many people say that you learn more from your losses, can you say that’s true for you? What have you learned in defeat?
“Yeah, I always learn from defeat. Sometimes it’s skills I need to work on or things in my camp that didn’t go as good.”
Humble in both victory and defeat, Kelly, is definitely a prospect to watch in the East Coast. “I’m not signed, so after this win I will take the best matchup next,” says Kelly. “I don’t take easy fights.” Whether it’s fighting for CES MMA again or for a new organization, one thing is for sure, every fight is one step closer towards chasing the dream.