Danielle Kelly: Women's BJJ Champion Atomweight | BJJ Mat Warriors
Danielle Kelly BJJ Champion

Danielle Kelly: Women’s BJJ Champion Atomweight

A Rising Star on the Mat: The Journey of Danielle Kelly

Danielle Kelly’s exploits in the world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) have been nothing short of inspiring. 

Danielle Kelly was Born on December 4, 1995. The Philadelphia native’s journey to grappling stardom began at the tender age of 10, as a means to overcome the torment of bullying she experienced during her early school days​​. It wasn’t long before her passion for the martial art saw her training intensively, honing the skills that would later make her a force to be reckoned with in the BJJ community.

Claiming the Atomweight Crown: Danielle Kelly’s Championship Saga

Danielle Kelly’s relentless training and dedication culminated in her clinching the prestigious ONE Women’s Atomweight Submission Grappling World Title, a testament to her prowess on the mat. 

Her journey to the title was a grueling one, marked by a high-profile clash with long-time rival Jessa Khan at ONE Fight Night 14. The duel, which took place on September 29, was a thrilling showcase of elite grappling techniques, with Kelly eventually emerging victorious through a hard-earned decision win​​​.

danielle kelly one champion womens bjj

Danielle Kelly UFC: A Dream Matchup Unfolds

While Danielle Kelly’s expertise lies in BJJ, her aspirations have also grazed the realms of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Her involvement in UFC-themed events began to materialize when she was featured in Fury Grappling 2, an event showcased on UFC FIGHT PASS, hinting at the tightening race for the Female Athlete of the Year title​​. 

But the true highlight came when Kelly faced UFC strawweight champion Rose Namajunas in a dream matchup during Fury Pro Grappling 3, also aired on UFC FIGHT PASS. This encounter was seen as a monumental moment, not just for Kelly, but for female grapplers aspiring to test their skills against UFC-level talents​6​.

Danielle Kelly’s UFC Aspirations

Kelly’s dreams don’t stop at one-off match-ups. Her eyes are set on engaging with several UFC stalwarts, showcasing a unique blend of respect and competitive spirit. Names like Demian Maia, Ryan Hall, and Mackenzie Dern feature on her dream matchup list, each presenting a unique challenge and an opportunity for Kelly to test her grappling skills against diversified fighting styles. These aspirations underline Kelly’s unyielding ambition and her quest to elevate her combat skills by facing off against the crème de la crème of the UFC​​.

Recent Bouts that Shaped Danielle Kelly’s Legacy

In the ever-evolving landscape of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), Danielle Kelly has continued to carve out a legacy that resonates beyond the mats. Her recent confrontations in the grappling arena have not only showcased her technical prowess but also signified her indomitable spirit to rise above past adversities.

The Prologue of Redemption: A Rematch with Jessa Khan

The narrative of Danielle Kelly’s recent matches is one deeply ingrained in redemption and triumph. The saga began with a rematch against Jessa Khan during ONE Fight Night 14 on September 29, 2023. 

This wasn’t just any match; it was a battle for the prestigious atomweight submission grappling title, and a chance for Kelly to avenge a prior loss to Khan. The stakes were high, the tension palpable, yet Kelly emerged victorious, marking a significant milestone in her grappling career​​.

The Global Stage Beckons: Facing Mei Yamaguchi and Mariia Molchanova

Danielle Kelly’s journey didn’t stop there. 2022 was a seminal year for her as she burst onto the global stage of martial arts. In March at ONE X, Kelly went toe-to-toe with MMA legend Mei Yamaguchi, in what was the first women’s submission grappling match in ONE Championship history. 

Danielle Kelly vs Yamaguchi

Her display of technique and acumen not only earned her a US$50,000 performance bonus but also etched her name in the annals of the sport. Fast forward eight months, at ONE on Prime Video 4, Kelly squared off against Sambo World Champion Mariia Molchanova, once again showcasing her grappling finesse by submitting Molchanova and earning another bonus for her efforts​3​​.

A Gaze Towards the Horizon: Future Aspirations

With each bout, Kelly’s star continues to rise. Her aspirations are now set on claiming gold in the atomweight division and making more history in 2023. A looming rivalry with reigning atomweight MMA queen Angela Lee and a potential third bout against Jessa Khan are on her radar. Kelly’s candid desire to settle scores and reach for the coveted women’s World Title for 115 pounds reflects not just her competitive spirit but also her unyielding ambition to continue scaling new heights in the grappling realm​4​.

The Ripple Effect of Danielle Kelly’s Triumphs

Danielle Kelly’s story is one of resilience, ambition, and a relentless quest for mastery. Her triumphs serve as a beacon of inspiration for aspiring grapplers, especially women looking to carve a niche in a domain historically dominated by men. Through her achievements and aspirations, Kelly is not just redefining what it means to be a successful female grappler but is also pushing the boundaries of what martial artists can achieve when passion meets perseverance.

This article only scratches the surface of Danielle Kelly’s vibrant journey in the world of martial arts, and there’s a lot more to her story waiting to be uncovered. Her growth from a bullied child to a BJJ Champion and a hopeful contender in the UFC realm is a narrative laden with lessons of grit, determination, and the power of dreaming big.

If you enjoy reading about the success of BJJ black belts, be sure to check out our posts about Daniel Strauss and John Danaher.

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