“I plan to speak with Coach Mark when I go home.”
Eric “The Natural” Kelly lives in Baguio City.
His brother, Edward, is a member of Team Lakay.
So why is Eric not training with Team Lakay?
According to Kelly, he’s still not sure if he wants to settle down.
“Currently, I don’t have a stable camp that I train in. Probably the camp I frequent the most is Tribal Submission. But wherever I feel comfortable training, that’s where I go. That’s my nature.
“Team Lakay is probably at the highest level in terms of MMA training in our country, so I do like to train with them, but at the same time I don’t want to be controlled. If I join Team Lakay, I think Coach Mark [Sangiao] will not allow me to train in another gym. At 33 and close to retirement, I want to gain as much knowledge from other gyms. I think of myself as an adventure. Ayaw kong matali.”
I asked him how he goes about the business of improving himself if he moves from gym to gym.
“Honestly, right now YouTube is my teacher. I watch videos and apply what I learned when I train. I think [going to different gyms] would help because I can adapt the skills of more fighters. Whatever I lack, I go to different gyms to cross-train.”
The wise advise us to see the good in the bad. In Kelly’s case, after incurring only his second loss in his professional career at the hands of Ev Ting, he faces a very dangerous KO artist in Timofey Nastyukhin. If you’re not good with names, Nastyukhin is the guy who knocked Eduard Folayang out with a flying knee followed by soccer kicks December 2014.
For a fighter of Kelly’s caliber, facing such a dangerous foe after a loss, this is perhaps the first time in a long while that he has ever felt fear. And fear has its way of spurring us into action.
“I plan to speak with Coach Mark when I go home. Medyo natatakot ako sa kalaban ko ngayon eh. After my fight with Rob Lisita, Coach Mark mentioned that he wanted to see if we could work something out. I think it’s time to help each other, to make each other better, especially now that we are facing high-level opponents.”
We are hoping that Kelly and Team Lakay would reach an agreement, not only for this fight, but for future competition as well. I asked Honorio Banario, who was also present during the ONE Championship press lunch yesterday, how he felt about Kelly training with them.
“That’s what we wanted all along. Even if we fought before, in Baguio we’re used to fighting and shaking hands right after. Sports lang. In the end, we’re both Filipinos, with the same blood, coming from the same tribe. We would love for that to happen.”
ONE Championship: Global Rivals will take place two weeks from now, April 15, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.