ONE Fight Night 14 preview and predictions: Danielle Kelly vs. Jessa Khan

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There’s always something compelling when two heated rivals face off against one another for a piece of gold.

Such is the case between Jessa Khan and Danielle Kelly.

The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belts will fight for the right to be called the inaugural ONE atomweight submission grappling world champion at ONE Fight Night 14 this Friday at Singapore Indoor Stadium.

Both fighters have an eerily similar offensive approach to their matches, with Kelly and Khan having the sole intention of forcing their opponents to tap. Although decisions are still victories, both Khan and Kelly feel that a tap-out is the only way to win in a submission grappling match.

Kelly and Khan’s meeting in Singapore is the second time they will face each other in a match. The first time they got at each other’s throats was in 2021 under the Who’s Number One banner.

A couple of years after that fateful encounter, the two rivals are it again. Before these submission artists meet in the city-state, Sportskeeda MMA’s ONE Championship team gave their expert analysis for the impending world title match.

ONE Fight Night 14 is available live and free to all Prime Video subscribers in North America.


James De Rozario: Jessa Khan by submission

Khan, more commonly known as ‘Lady Armbar’ in the grappling realm, will pack more than just that in this rematch against Kelly, and it’ll be enough to take her across the finish line.

Her relentless pressure and pace could unsettle Kelly, despite her fighting inside a cage setting for the first time. Truthfully, as long as she keeps the action smack in the center, the Cambodian-American athlete will open up her foe like a can of tuna.

That doesn’t mean that Kelly won’t bite back when she’s being forced from one position after another. The Silver Fox BJJ student does remarkably well under pressure as seen in their first contest.

However, Khan’s expertise in finding different paths to a submission from guard or mount will be the difference. Her trademark aggression could force Kelly to give up something, possibly her back. From there, the protege of the legendary Mendes brothers would make her coaches proud and bag the most coveted prize in submission grappling today.


Mike Murillo: Danielle Kelly by submission

Admittedly, a submission grappling match is difficult to predict as it is, more so in this case between two fighters on top of their game for a world title.

I expect a chess match between Kelly and Khan with the former eventually ending up with a submission victory, possibly by rear-naked choke, late in the contest.

Kelly’s experience fighting in a ONE Championship setting – fighting in a cage, having fought fighters from other disciplines and all the attention – will be an advantage for her over the debuting Khan.

She also has payback on her mind after losing to Khan in 2021 in a match outside of ONE. She has been saying that she learned a lot from that fight, and I expect her to come in with the needed adjustments and some.

Khan, however, is an IBJJF gold medal winner and it does not count for nothing. She will pose problems for Kelly early on with her aggressiveness but eventually will find herself in a bind before succumbing to defeat.


Ted Razon: Jessa Khan by decision

Danielle Kelly has indeed evolved into a much more formidable grappler two years removed from that loss to Jessa Khan. Still, I think the Cambodian-American grappler has her number and will pull off another victory in their do-over.

This time, though, I expect it to be a closer matchup, and I think Kelly will even have her moments in this one.

The American’s familiarity with grappling in the circle will indeed come in handy, and I expect her to utilize it especially if they end up near the cage walls. She’ll aggressively try to pass Khan’s guard which should be much easier than done.

I expect Khan to complete a technical sweep halfway into the bout and exert her dominance from the top. While Khan said she won’t be utilizing her armbars this time, given Kelly’s flexibility, she can still threaten her with the joint lock and use it to claim a more dominant position.

I believe Khan will eventually slither her way to Kelly’s back and run away with more catches from submission attempts for the decision victory.


Vince Richards: Jessa Khan by decision

This meeting is going to be a grappling fan’s fever dream.

Jessa Khan and Danielle Kelly are two of the best female grapplers on the planet right now, and their highly aggressive fighting style brings a different kind of excitement to their matches.

Kelly has certainly evolved into one of the finest grapplers of this generation, but there is just something different about Khan.

The Cambodian-American is a prodigy in every sense of the word. At just 21 years old, Khan already achieved world champion status when she won the gold medal in the female light featherweight division in the 2023 IBJJ World Championships.

She also goes by the bone-chilling nickname ‘Lady Armbar’.

Kelly will have her moments in this match, but I expect Khan to have an answer for every offensive sequence the American launches.

This fight, though, will ultimately reach the judges’ scorecards, where the win will go to Khan.

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Edited by Harvey Leonard
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