Yet another contender has emerged from the Filipino mixed martial arts (MMA) stronghold of Baguio in recent months and he has a familiar surname. Edward Kelly is the brother of ONE FC 145-pound title challenger Eric and after making a successful comeback this year, he is hoping to make an impression with Asia's biggest MMA organization.
The parallels between the two siblings are startling. Eric was 5-0 and 29 years old when he made his ONE FC debut in September 2011. Edward is 5-0 and 29 years old and says he is hoping that he will get a spot on the September 13 card in Jakarta.
"I'm hoping to fight in ONE FC Indonesia. I respect the matchmaker and I am ready to fight anyone at 145 pounds except for Eric!"
Edward's career began with Team Lakay, just like Eric's. He fought for the now-defunct Fearless Fighting Championship in 2007 and then took a two-year break before fighting twice in 2009, once for URCC and once for Brawl Baatan.
Despite winning his first three fights, Edward drifted away from the sport and says that, at the time, life simply took precedent over MMA.
"I was with the Wushu Sanshou team band, we joined MMA due to coach Mark Sangiao, but I got married and I wanted to settle down and open a small business and also my loved ones thought that MMA was dangerous so I stopped."
It was not until he cornered Eric for his ONE FC: "Pride of a Nation" fight with Jens Pulver in August 2012 that Edward felt motivated to return to MMA and after seeing his brother stop the former UFC champion in the second round, he decided to get on the comeback trail.
"After Eric's ONE FC fight in Philippines with Jens Pulver, suddenly the real passion in fighting comes out and it felt like my body was missing it after years of not fighting."
Eric has been based at Muayfit in Kuala Lumpur since 2012 and Edward followed in his footsteps by moving to Malaysia last September in order to accept a coaching position at the newly-opened Godzilla camp. Ironically, given the similarities between the lifestyle and location of the two brothers, they seldom train together.
"I have not trained with Eric very much and we did not get to train together before my last fight because we worked at different places. I went to Malaysia because I met a friend of my brothers at his ONE FC fight in the Philippines and he invited me to train in his gym in Malaysia."
Edward returned from a four-year absence from the sport in March when he took on Pakistani featherweight Tariq Jan at Ultimate Beatdown 11 in Johor Bahru, winning the fight by techical knockout after just under a minute when the doctor decided to call off the contest due to a cut close to his opponent's eye.
That win set up a bout on an even bigger stage against touted Thai featherweight Tanaphong Khunhankaew, a veteran of 100-plus Muay Thai fights who was coming off an impressive armbar win. He had also been competing regularly inside the cage, making their match up in the finale of the Malaysian Invasion tournament a stern examination of Edward's comeback credentials.
The fight was highly competitive with Tanaphong doing damage in the striking exchange and on the ground, but Edward emerged victorious after scoring a series of takedowns and enjoying positional dominance for the majority of the fight.
The Malaysian Invasion tournament was screened all over Asia on Star Sports with the Final taking place in the 10,000 capacity Stadium Negara in Kuala Lumpur and Edward was happy with his performance in one of three "super fights" arranged by ONE FC.
"It was a challenging fight because he had fought 100 plus times in Muay Thai and I think it was definitely the toughest fight for me so far because it is the first time I have been to decision."
Edward will be joining a featherweight division which, as well as his older brother, contains Honorio Banario, Bae Young Kwon, Koetsu Boku and Mitch Chilson along with Koji Oishi, who is the current champion, and Shinya Aoki, who will without doubt be the man to beat.
Eric made a name for himself by beating Chilson, Kwon and Jens Pulver before coming up short in his title tilt with Banario. Edward now has a chance to step out of his older brother's shadow and forge a reputation of his own and on the basis of his most recent performance, he has the tools to become the latest Filipino contender in the ONE FC 145-pound division.