A Miami-Dade County firefighter is among eight local Florida-based MMA rising stars who will get their chance on the big stage this Thursday during Bellator Fighting Championships’ Season 2 kick-off show at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
John Kelly, a 31-year-old married father of three from North Miami, is undefeated in four fights since making his pro debut last February and attributes much of his success to his training as a firefighter.
“Fighting fires and fighting in a cage are actually very, very similar experiences,” Kelly said. “When you’re in a dark room and you can’t see anything and its 300 or 400 degrees, every sense that you have is telling you to get out of there. It’s the same thing in the cage. There’s times when it would make a lot of sense just to give up and tap out, but all the training that you go through and dedicate yourself to tells you to keep going.”
The unique work schedule that firefighters keep (Kelly works one 24-hour shift and then has two days off) also allow him to maintain a full-time training regimen while supporting his family.
“I’m very lucky because fighting is my passion and I don’t think I could fight and be competitive and still support my family if I wasn’t a firefighter,” he said. “So now I’m just trying to keep winning and see where it takes me. Bellator is a dream come true for me—to be fighting for a great organization like this is just surreal.”
Kelly will put his perfect record on the line versus Port St. Lucie’s Michael Byrnes, Jr.*, (1-2-1) during the Local Main Event of Thursday night’s show.
The event will also feature four nationally televised First Round bouts in Bellator’s eight-man single-elimination lightweight and featherweight tournaments.