Kelly stops Pulver to earn ONE FC featherweight title shot
It remains to be seen if Eric Kelly can live up to the hype Jens Pulver threw his way after their fight, but he may be on his way.
Kelly put Pulver in trouble in the second round, landing big shots that forced Pulver to try to take the fight to the ground. But there, Kelly, the clear fan favorite from the Philippines, landed some knees to the head.
As Pulver got back up, he appeared to be tired, and Kelly moved in for the kill. He landed kicks to the legs, then up high, then knees, then a kick to the body that put Pulver right to the canvas. Kelly finished him with ground-and-pound to earn the stoppage 1:46 into the second.
Pulver, 37, had moved back up to featherweight for the fight. He said he's thinking about retirement – but that he still would like to fight more.
"I was thinking just how fast and strong your boy is," Pulver told the crowd. "This might be the Manny Pacquiao of MMA. I'm 37 these days. Retirement is on its way. One or two more. My last three wins have all been at 135, but to get the opportunity to fight a savage like this, I had to do it. I'm ready to go back to 135."
"I trained hard for this fight. Jens Pulver is a legend and a knockout artist, so I did my best to train," Kelly said. "When I saw he was a little hurt from the punches, I threw a kick and he went down. I wanted to choke him out, but the referee stopped us."
With the win, Kelly was given a shot at ONE FC's first featherweight title. He'll fight early winner Honorio Banario at ONE FC 6 on Oct. 6.
Kelly (8-0) remains unbeaten with the win, and seven of his eight victories have been by stoppage. Pulver (26-7), the first lightweight champ in UFC history, has alternated wins and losses for the past year and a half.
Eric Kelly def. Jens Pulver via TKO (strikes) - Round 2, 1:46