Paul Kelly (fighter)

Paul Anthony Kelly[1] (born 12 September 1984) is a retired English mixed martial artist who is best known for his nine-fight stint in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Paul Kelly
BornPaul Anthony Kelly[1]
(1984-09-12) 12 September 1984 (age 37)
Liverpool, England
Other namesTellys
Height5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Weight155 lb (70 kg; 11.1 st)
DivisionLightweight (2009–2012)
Welterweight (2006–2009, 2012–present)
Middleweight (2005–2006)
Reach70.0 in (178 cm)
Fighting out ofLiverpool, England
TeamWolfslair MMA academy (2004–2010)[2][3]
Team Kaobon (2010–2021)[2]
Years active2005–2013, 2020–2021
Mixed martial arts record
By knockout8
By submission4
By decision3
By knockout1
By submission2
By decision2
Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog
Paul Anthony Kelly
Born (1984-09-12) 12 September 1984 (age 37)
Criminal statusReleased in 2019
Conviction(s)Heroin trafficking
Criminal penalty13 years in prison

Kelly was sentenced to thirteen years in prison for heroin trafficking in 2013. He was released in 2019.

Mixed martial arts careerEdit


Coming from an amateur boxer family, Kelly grew up in boxing gyms and got in a lot of altercations in his youth.[4] He was expelled from school and never completed his education.[3]

Kelly started out his mixed martial arts career in Liverpool, England at the Wolfslair MMA academy which was once home to The Ultimate Fighter 3 winner Michael Bisping.[5] However, he later moved across town to Team Kaobon, home of former UFC lightweight Terry Etim and retired UFC lightweight Paul Taylor.[6]

Ultimate Fighting ChampionshipEdit

He made his UFC debut at UFC 80: Rapid Fire, where he won a decision victory over his opponent Paul Taylor.[7] Kelly and Taylor were both awarded $35,000 as a bonus for Fight of the Night.[8] The fight was ranked #100 on UFC's Ultimate 100 Greatest Fights.

Kelly was scheduled to fight Jonathan Goulet at UFC 85, but Goulet pulled out citing a lack of preparation.[9] Before another opponent was found, Kelly himself had to withdraw from the event after injuring his right hand during training.[10]

Kelly was defeated by Marcus Davis via submission at UFC 89.[11]

Kelly defeated Troy Mandaloniz at UFC 95.[12] Kelly battered Mandaloniz from top position throughout the fight. He opened cuts above both of Mandaloniz's eyes with elbows and punches.[13] The judges scored the fight (30–27, 30–27, 30–28) for a unanimous decision for Kelly.[14]

After the fight with Mandaloniz, Kelly announced he was moving from welterweight to lightweight.[15] Kelly said he wanted to make the drop after leaving the division on a winning note.[15]

Kelly fought Rolando Delgado at UFC 99 in Cologne, Germany. This was his first fight at lightweight.[16] Kelly defeated Roli after going all three rounds giving Kelly the unanimous decision victory.

Kelly lost his fight against Dennis Siver at UFC 105 after having his ribs injured by a spinning back kick and getting hit by punches from Siver.[17] This was his first fight under Team Kaobon. Kelly revealed afterwards that his ribs had already been damaged going into the fight, a by-product of the notoriously hard-contact sparring sessions at Kaobon.

Kelly then looked to bounce back, against Matt Veach on the UFC 112 card in Abu Dhabi.[18] At 3:41 of the second round, Kelly pulled off a guillotine choke submission and was victorious.

This was then intended to be followed up with a fight against Jacob Volkmann at the UFC 116 prelims, on 3 July.[19] However, the fight was moved on 1 August, to the UFC Live: Jones vs. Matyushenko card due to visa issues forcing him out of the 116 card.[20] Volkmann went on to defeat Kelly via unanimous decision (all judges scoring the bout 30–27).

Kelly was expected to face Gabe Ruediger on 20 November 2010, at UFC 123.[21] However, Ruediger was forced out of the bout with a groin injury.[22] Ruediger was replaced by TUF 12 competitor TJ O'Brien.[23] After initially struggling to hit O'Brien's chin, due to the height disadvantage, Kelly was able to connect and dropped O'Brien with a combination. Later in the second round, Kelly secured a crucifix and hit O'Brien with multiple elbows, resulting in a TKO stoppage.[24]

Kelly was expected to face Sam Stout on 5 February 2011, at UFC 126,[25] but Stout was forced from the bout with an injury and replaced by Donald Cerrone.[26] Kelly lost to Cerrone via submission due to a rear-naked choke. Although he lost, the performance earned him and Cerrone Fight of the Night honors.

In the aftermath of his loss to Cerrone, Kelly was released from the promotion,[27] leaving the company with a 5-4 record.

Post UFCEdit

Kelly was expected to face Afakasi Sione at UCMMA 21 in England on 25 June. However, due to an injury Kelly had to withdraw from the bout.

Kelly was expected to fight at Legacy FC 9 on 16 December 2011 against Jeff Rexroad. However, Kelly pulled out of the fight due to visa issues and has been replaced by Efrain Escudero, However, Efrain was resigned to the UFC, causing him to withdraw from the bout.[28]

Super Fight LeagueEdit

Kelly, along with Xavier Foupa-Pokam and Lena Ovchynnikova signed a four-fight contract with the Super Fight League.[29]

He made his debut for them at SFL 2 against WEC and Strikeforce veteran Ryan Healy. He lost the fight via unanimous decision.[30]


There has been an ongoing feud between Kelly and Richard Griffin over the last few weeks which has resulted in them being booked to fight at UCMMA 31.[31] They were having a disagreement over a fight that Richard Griffin and Ross Pointon had in the Dominican Republic that was recently posted on the UCMMA Facebook page. Kelly stated that he thought Griffin was lucky in his fight with Pointon and that "The Real Deal" would win that match-up 9 times out of ten. Griffin felt disrespected and fired back with some insults of his own, which including jabs at Kelly being dropped by the UFC. Both men then called for a fight in the cage to settle the matter, in which Dave O’Donnell decided to approach both men to arrange the fight.

Kelly and Griffin settled this feud on 1 December with Kelly winning via guillotine choke in the second round.

Post-conviction careerEdit

Having been active at the gym and studying nutrition during his prison sentence, Kelly returned to the regional mixed martial arts competition at Probellum 1: Liverpool on 7 March 2020.[32] Kelly faced Simone Bottino, winning the bout in the second round via technical knockout.[33]

In February 2021, Kelly announced his retirement from the sport.[34]

Personal lifeEdit

Kelly had his first child, a daughter named Phoebe in June 2008.[35]

Drug trafficking convictionEdit

In May 2013, Kelly was found guilty of heroin trafficking in the United Kingdom and was sentenced to 13 years in prison. However, Kelly was put on work release in 2017 and had completed his sentence and thus released in May 2019.[36][37][38][39] During his work release, Kelly started a healthy eating restaurant in Liverpool.[39]

Championships and accomplishmentsEdit

Mixed martial arts recordEdit

Professional record breakdown
20 matches 15 wins 5 losses
By knockout 8 1
By submission 4 2
By decision 3 2
Res. Record Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Location Notes
Win 15–5 Simone Bottino TKO (elbows and punches) Probellum 1: Liverpool 7 March 2020 2 1:37 Liverpool, United Kingdom
Win 14–5 Henrique Santana TKO (punches) UWC 22 2 March 2013 1 3:47 Essex, England, United Kingdom
Win 13–5 Richard Griffin Submission (guillotine choke) UCMMA 31 1 December 2012 2 2:52 London, England, United Kingdom Welterweight bout.
Loss 12–5 Ryan Healy Decision (unanimous) SFL 2 7 April 2012 3 5:00 Chandigarh, India
Loss 12–4 Donald Cerrone Submission (rear-naked choke) UFC 126 5 February 2011 2 3:48 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States Fight of the Night
Win 12–3 TJ O'Brien TKO (elbows) UFC 123 20 November 2010 2 3:16 Auburn Hills, Michigan, United States
Loss 11–3 Jacob Volkmann Decision (unanimous) UFC Live: Jones vs. Matyushenko 1 August 2010 3 5:00 San Diego, California, United States
Win 11–2 Matt Veach Submission (guillotine choke) UFC 112 10 April 2010 2 3:41 Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Loss 10–2 Dennis Siver TKO (spinning back kick and punches) UFC 105 14 November 2009 2 2:53 Manchester, England
Win 10–1 Rolando Delgado Decision (unanimous) UFC 99 13 June 2009 3 5:00 Cologne, Germany Debut at Lightweight
Win 9–1 Troy Mandaloniz Decision (unanimous) UFC 95 21 February 2009 3 5:00 London, England
Loss 8–1 Marcus Davis Submission (guillotine choke) UFC 89 18 October 2008 2 2:16 Birmingham, England
Win 8–0 Paul Taylor Decision (unanimous) UFC 80 19 January 2008 3 5:00 Newcastle upon Tyne, England Fight of the Night
Win 7–0 Jordan James TKO (punches) Cage Gladiators 4: Prepare for Glory 5 August 2007 2 2:40 Liverpool, England
Win 6–0 Sami Berik Submission (rear-naked choke) Cage Warriors: Enter The Rough House 3 21 July 2007 1 1:27 Nottingham, England
Win 5–0 Marius Liaukevicius Submission (arm-triangle choke) Clash of Warriors 14 July 2007 1 1:10 England
Win 4–0 Bruce Davis TKO (doctor stoppage) House of Pain Fight Night 6: The Real Deal 30 July 2006 1 3:38 Swansea, Wales Won Middleweight title
Win 3–0 James Neal TKO (punches) Ultimate Force 26 November 2006 1 3:02 South Yorkshire, England
Win 2–0 Nigel Whitear TKO (punches) FX3: Battle of Britain 15 October 2005 1 0:54 England
Win 1–0 Ian McAleese TKO (punches) CWFC: Quest 2 29 July 2005 1 1:21 England


  1. ^ a b Mixed martial arts show results Date: February 5, 2011
  2. ^ a b Elliot Worsell (20 July 2010). "Paul Kelly: Thanks, Jacob". Ultimate Fighting Championship.
  3. ^ a b Gareth A. Davies (9 October 2008). "Paul Kelly rebuilds life in MMA to become UFC contender". The Daily Telegraph.
  4. ^ Tom Duffy (26 May 2018). "I went from UFC superfights in Vegas to being locked up with the Croxteth Young Guns". Liverpool Echo.
  5. ^ Malone, Kieran (14 September 2008). "Wolfslair Academy adds Kongo, Ghosn, Rodriguez as training partners".
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 October 2011. Retrieved 22 January 2010.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ Stupp, Dan. "UFC 80: Rapid Fire -- Live Results and Round-by-Round Updates". MMAjunkie.
  8. ^ Stupp, Dann. "UFC Issues $140,000 in UFC 80 "Fight Night" Bonuses". MMAjunkie.
  9. ^ "MMA on Tap".
  10. ^ "MMA on Tap".
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 February 2009. Retrieved 13 February 2009.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ Knapp, Brian. "'Cigano' Chops Down Struve at UFC 95; Etim Topples Cobb on Prelims". Sherdog.
  14. ^ ""UFC 95: Sanchez vs. Stevenson" official results and round-by-round updates". MMAjunkie.
  15. ^ a b "UFC's Paul Kelly moving from welterweight to lightweight". MMAjunkie.
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Exclusive: Paul Kelly v Dennis Siver at UFC 105". Fighters Only. Archived from the original on 14 September 2009. Retrieved 20 August 2009.
  18. ^ "Lightweight Paul Kelly returns at UFC 112". MMAjunkie.
  19. ^ Stupp, Dann (11 May 2010). "Paul Kelly vs. Jacob Volkmann now official for UFC 116 preliminary card". MMAJunkie. Archived from the original on 14 May 2010. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
  20. ^ "Paul Kelly vs. Jacob Volkmann moved from UFC 116 to UFC on Versus 2". MMAjunkie. Archived from the original on 4 August 2010.
  21. ^ "RUEDIGER VS. KELLY SET FOR UFC 123". Archived from the original on 10 September 2010. Retrieved 7 September 2010.
  22. ^ "Injured Gabe Ruediger out of UFC 123 prelim fight with Paul Kelly". 25 October 2010. Archived from the original on 11 July 2012.
  23. ^ "T.J. O'Brien Steps in for Injured Ruediger Vs Paul Kelly". Retrieved 27 October 2010.
  24. ^ "UFC 123 preliminary card recap: Brian Foster taps Matt Brown in second". 20 November 2010.
  25. ^ "Sam Stout vs. Paul Kelly for UFC 126". 24 November 2010. Archived from the original on 30 November 2010. Retrieved 24 November 2010.
  26. ^ "Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone Steps In To Face Paul Kelly At UFC 126". 3 January 2011.
  27. ^ "British striker Paul Kelly released from UFC following loss to Donald Cerrone at UFC 126". 13 February 2011.
  28. ^ "Paul Kelly out, Efrain Escudero in at HDNet's Legacy Fighting Championships 9". MMAjunkie. Archived from the original on 4 December 2011.
  29. ^ "Super Fight League announces the signing of Paul Kelly, Professor X, and Lena Ochynnikova". 28 February 2012. Archived from the original on 3 March 2012. Retrieved 28 February 2012.
  30. ^ "SFL 2 Results: Duffee Knocks Out Grove, Shlemenko Rolls and Calls Out Lombard". 21 September 2012. Retrieved 7 April 2012.
  31. ^ "PAUL KELLY VS. RICHARD GRIFFIN – UCMMA 31". 21 September 2012. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
  32. ^ Nolan King (21 February 2020). "Time served, lessons learned: How Paul Kelly's prison sentence was a time for self-mastery".
  33. ^ Simon Head (7 March 2020). "Paul Kelly triumphs in MMA comeback at Probellum 1 after six-year prison term".
  34. ^ Danny Segura (15 February 2021). "Former UFC fighter Paul Kelly announces retirement from MMA".
  35. ^ "Exclusive: Paul Kelly on Marcus Davis, the UFC and sparring with Rampage". 22 August 2008. Retrieved 16 October 2008.
  36. ^ "Cage fighter who ran heroin dealing empire is behind bars". 15 June 2013.
  37. ^ "Paul Kelly convicted of heroin trafficking". 17 May 2013.
  38. ^ Nolan King (15 January 2020). "Ex-UFC fighter Paul Kelly announces MMA return after six years in prison".
  39. ^ a b Zane Simon (12 January 2020). "After 6-years in prison for drug trafficking, UFC vet Paul Kelly returning to MMA".

External linksEdit