ONE Championship: Mei Yamaguchi describes Danielle Kelly’s training camp as an “interesting challenge” harder than her usual MMA preparations

Mei Yamaguchi is one of the most capable grapplers on Women’s MMA’s ONE roster.

However, the Japanese icon understands that her world-class grappling game won’t necessarily reap the same rewards in a pure grappling match, especially against a decorated Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist like Danielle Kelly.

Ahead of her clash with the American debutante at ONE X on Saturday, March 26, Mei Yamaguchi explained the differences between preparing for an MMA contest and a submission-only fight.

She told the South China Morning Post:

“You know in MMA you have to do a lot of things like punching and grappling and wrestling and all that. So I’m pretty busy thinking about all that and you know, trying to put it all together and thinking about what going to happen and what I have to do, it’s pretty busy.

On paper, focusing on a wrestling-only tie seems like the easier of the two. However, Mei Yamaguchi revealed that it wasn’t as simple as some would assume.

“Grappling…it’s not easy. But, you know, if I think about all the things I need to do, I can focus more on, like certain techniques, and those are the things, the difference. So, it’s rather interesting. Like, it’s a challenge for me, how can I focus on the simple things, you know.

Watch SCMP’s interview with Mei Yamaguchi below:


Mei Yamaguchi hones all aspects of her floor prowess to take on Danielle Kelly’s BJJ

Despite the slight challenges she might endure ahead of her first submission grappling contest on the world stage, Yamaguchi is eager to see how she fare in this contest, which is scheduled for a single 12-minute round.

The Japanese martial arts veteran is also eager to end her three-game slippage at the world’s biggest martial arts organization. She won’t have it easy though, as Kelly has plenty of experience fending off grapplers on the canvas.

On the other hand, the former ONE atomweight world title challenger has done the homework.

She expects Kelly to pull out the guns in an attempt to control the contest, but she’ll do her best to make sure it’ll be a rocky start for the superstar at ONE X: Part I on Saturday, March 26.

“I practice everywhere, trying to get all the leg lock defense. I ask all the legends and grapplers to get my leg back and I try to escape. And that’s all I do every day. It’s funny.”


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Kristen T. Prall