Dan Kelly is chasing a storybook ending to his fighting career.
The Australian middleweight and four-time Olympian is campaigning for a place on UFC 234 which takes place in Melbourne next year on February 10. More than saying farewell in his home city, Kelly is eager to share a piece of his martial arts journey with his son for the first and last time.
On Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show yesterday, Kelly revealed that he was inspired by Mark Hunt at UFC 221 earlier this year, who walked to the Octagon with his son, Noah, in tow. He wants to share that same experience with his son, Erik.
Erik suffers from a rare genetic disease called cystinosis, a metabolic condition that causes amino acid to accumulate in various organs of the body. Kelly describes the disease as an “uphill battle” which requires his son to be medicated about 20 times per day and is likely to render him in need of a kidney transplant in the near future. Erik has never attended one of his dad’s fights because Kelly felt he was too young. Now that he’s in high school, Kelly believes it’s the right time.
Kelly, 13-4, is no longer under contract with the UFC after losing to Englishman Tom Breese in May. Although he’s currently on a three-fight skid, the Aussie’s stint in the UFC was widely celebrated for his unlikely success as a perennial underdog. Sporting knee braces and patched up with tape, the 41-year-old often dubbed “Dad Bod” always came to fight, and more often than not, he came away with the win. He picked up notable wins over former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans, Chris Camozzi and Antonio Carlos Junior.
While he awaits to hear from the UFC, Kelly told Helwani that Tim Boetsch and C.B. Dolloway have been suggested on social media as potential opponents.
With the endless outpour of support on Kelly’s social media accounts, there’s no doubt the Dad’s Army would be warmly welcomed at UFC 234.