Gavin Kelly (6-2) is competing this weekend at BattleZone 13. The 28-year-old is looking continue building on his two-fight-win streak, which included a AXS TV Fights featured finish in his last fight against Luke O’Neil at UXC.
I had the opportunity to chat with Gavin about this upcoming fight, career hopes, changing camps and much more.
Alan Murphy: It has been almost a year since you last competed, howcome the break and what have you been doing since then?
Gavin Kelly: The break has not been by choice. I was supposed to fight Steve McCombe on Clan Wars in November for their bantamweight title but I had to pull out with a knee injury. Then I was then scheduled to fight on Cage Warriors on New Years Eve but the show got cancelled and then my next fight was scheduled for Chaos in February against Steven Coll for their featherweight pro title but he had to pull out with work commitments.
I ain’t had much luck since my last fight so I was very grateful that Darren O’Gorman stepped in for my original opponent Sean Tobin, who I to hope to get matched-up against at Kumite next month or Akuma in August.
There have been big changes since my last fight as I joined the Next Gen NI fight team in November. I had trained at Next Gen Liverpool for 2 and a half years before that and after chatting to Jason McCabe, Paul Rimmer and Rodney Moore my mind was made up and it has been a great decision as I have improved so much in every area training under Rodney Moore and Derek Morrison and training with the likes of Norman Parke, Alan Philpott, Andy Young etc. and of course my boy Rhys McKee, who is gonna steal the show in Saturday’s featherweight tournament.
I still coach at Evolve as it is where everything started for me so I will always be apart of that club plus I still wrestle with the NI Squad/Waterside Sharks and all my S&C work is done with my main sponsor J Max Fit plus since March. I now also have, for the first time, a great boxing coach on board in Donard McNally who has worked miracles with me.
AM: You won your last fight in rather devastating fashion. How much confidence does a win like that give you?
GK: I’m known for my wrestling, especially my slams, so it was great to get a finish with one. With every win and every finish it gives me a lot of confidence but every fight is different and I’m not gonna get too confident cause every opponent provides a very different threat.
AM: What are your thoughts on the current landscape of Irish MMA for pro fighters on the local scene?
GK: I think the Irish MMA pro scene is ok, obviously Cage Warriors is a massive loss at the moment but the smaller shows like BattleZone, Clan Wars, Chaos, UXC, Akuma and Kumite are doing a good job and they are all good shows to compete on.
AM: You are fighting Darren O’Gorman this weekend at BZ 13. What are your thoughts on the Darren and the fight in general? Where do you feel you have the advantage?
GK: Darren is a talented guy, has more talent than me lol. He has good striking with a good ground game, a good physique for bantamweight with a great attitude and a great team behind him. It’s gonna be a tough and dangerous fight as he is a finisher but so am I. I don’t like going to the judges so I am going to try finish the fight or get finished trying. People might say my advantage is grappling and that his is striking but I have done a lot of boxing recently and Darren trains with Sean Tobin and the O’Briens so only Saturday will tell who has advantages where.
AM: You have an opportunity to win three fights in a row for the first time in your pro career. Is this something you think about at all?
GK: Before I turned pro I had a 5 fight winning streak ended so would be nice to equal or beat that but all I care about is finishing fights and performing to the best of my abilities and if that gets me 3 wins in a row then perfect, as long as I perform to my maximum.
AM: What puts you under pressure the most in MMA and what do you do to deal with this?
GK: The only thing that puts me under pressure in MMA is making weight but that process is a lot easier since I turned vegetarian at the start of last year and I’m hoping it gets even easier as I’m going vegan the Monday after this fight but apart from that there is no pressure as I’m living my dream and training full-time since I graduated.
AM: What is the goal for you in MMA, where do you ideally see yourself in a couple of years?
GK: My goal in MMA is simply to be the best I can be and if that gets me to the UFC then great and if not I’m gonna make sure I gave it my best shot. In 2 years time I want be the bantamweight champion of BattleZone, Clan Wars, Chaos, UXC, Akuma and Kumite and if Cage Warriors returns I would like to make a run at that belt too.