ONE FC boss explains Eric Kelly’s exclusion from ‘Warrior’s Way’
MANILA, Philippines – ONE Fighting Championship (ONE FC) chief Victor Cui gave a corresponding explanation regarding the expulsion of renowned Filipino fighter Eric Kelly from the “Warrior’s Way” event on Friday, December 5.
Kelly was originally penciled to challenge newly-minted featherweight champion Jadamba Narantungalag in the main event of the aforementioned fight card, which takes place at the 20,000-seater SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, Metro Manila.
According to Kelly, the title tilt never materialized as negotiations between his management and ONE FC fell through after being billed in promotional posters and videos along with other Pinoy combatants as early as September.
The 32-year-old native of Baguio City refused to divulge details of the fallout between both parties in a recent interview, but Cui shared the reason behind Kelly’s exclusion from ONE FC: Warrior’s Way to Rappler.
Cui flatly shot down the notion that money was the issue and pointed out that Kelly even received a bonus of $50,000 after pulling off a comeback victory over Rob Lisita at ONE FC: War of Dragons on July 11.
“Eric Kelly is the highest paid Filipino MMA fighter as he received a $50,000 bonus on top of guaranteed prize and his win bonus. He deserved and earned it. He put a fantastic fight in Taiwan and emphasized the true spirit of martial arts. He should have lost that fight, but he didn’t give up,” he said.
The head honcho disclosed that the $50,000 extra was deposited to Kelly’s personal bank account, citing that the funds would go directly to him without necessity of engaging a third party.
“ONE FC gave him $50,000 in cash and deposited directly to his personal account, not through his mangers or coaches. We’ve given him the authority to decide on how he would split it up,” Cui asserted.
Cui bared that ONE FC matchmaker Matt Hume made the offer to face Jadamba in a featherweight championship clash, but Kelly persisted with issues and remained irresolute.
“When Matt Hume puts together a match, the only answer that we ever want to hear is ‘Yes, I am ready. Yes, I’m willing to fight.’ That’s the answer that we should always hear. However, that’s not the answer we got from Eric Kelly. We heard bunch of hesitations on his part,” he shared.
The Filipino-Canadian promoter attested that Kelly is still the No. 1 contender for the 145-pound division’s top prize, but he added that the situation may get altered if he remains indolent.
The threat of losing the title shot is imminent for Kelly as highly-touted prospect Herbert Burns is scheduled to square off with former featherweight kingpin Honorio Banario at ONE FC: Warrior’s Way.
“Yes, he is still the No. 1 contender, but the fact of the matter is it puts a wrinkle on the timeline for Eric Kelly for not being on this card,” Cui stressed.
Cui is willing to extend his hand to work things out with Kelly’s camp as Asia’s largest mixed martial arts organization plans to book him in a bout early next year.
“The relationship with Eric is still very strong. He is a great guy. We’re planning to give him a fight in a couple of months with us,” he stated. - Rappler.com