‘I proved I was better than Jessa Khan’ – Danielle Kelly comments on title-winning performance at ONE Championship

Newly crowned ONE submission grappling world champion Danielle Kelly spoke about her victory over rival Jessa Khan.

Danielle Kelly is now 1-1 against rival Jessa Khan, but she’s confident she’s the superior grappler.

Last Friday, at ONE Fight Night 14, Kelly earned a decision victory over the Art of Jiu-Jitsu representative to claim the inaugural ONE atomweight submission grappling world title. View the recap of that match here.

For Kelly, the victory avenged a 2021 Who’s Number One decision loss to Khan. In that match, Khan – then making her black belt debut – largely dominated both position and submission threats over the course of 15 minutes.

In their most recent encounter at ONE Championship, Khan again found moments of positional success, even securing a clean back-take at one point. Kelly, though, did an excellent job of utilizing the cage wall, stifling Khan’s movement by pressuring her into the fence for much of the contest. 

The Philadelphia native also attacked a kneebar which earned her a catch. Under ONE’s submission grappling rules, the primary scoring criteria is the number of catches. So, despite Khan’s positional success, it was Kelly who walked away the victor having earned one catch to none.

After the match, Kelly reflected on her performance:

“I envisioned this, and I put it out there today. I didn’t let the noise get to me. This is what I do. This is my job and I proved that I was the best today. I proved I was better than Jessa Khan.” 

The 27-year-old is now undefeated across four bouts in ONE and has quickly become one of the promotion’s premier stars. She is also the first-ever ONE women’s submission grappling titleholder.

Kelly, who joins Mikey Musumeci and Kade Ruotolo as a ONE submission grappling world champion, reflected on what it means to hold the belt:

“This means that I’m a warrior. Again, I worked really hard for this and I’m a champion and I’m just proud to be the face of ONE Championship’s Atomweight Submission Grappling and be the face of women’s Jiu-Jitsu for all the young girls and boys out there. That’s what motivates me.” 

Additionally, Kelly left the door open for a potential trilogy bout with Khan:

“I wouldn’t be opposed to it, but you know I beat her pretty good today. She had a back exchange at one point, but I escaped it, and I almost choked her out in the last ten seconds.” 

Ben Coate

Ben has been involved with grappling, whether through wrestling or Brazilian jiu-jitsu, essentially his entire life. After wrestling throughout his childhood, Ben found Brazilian jiu-jitsu as a young adult and quickly fell in love. He has been training for over ten years and currently holds the rank of brown belt, and remains involved in both the MMA and BJJ scene. Ben has been writing about combat sports since 2017. He has interviewed and profiled some of MMA's biggest stars, including multiple UFC champions.

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