ERIC Kelly returns to action after a year out, eager to show he is back on his feet.
The man dubbed "The Natural" did not give specifics, but said “vices” destroyed his career and he is grateful to be given another chance.
"Nawalan ako ng focus dito sa Pilipinas at nagka-bisyo ako. Lumalaban ako ng walang ensayo at sobrang nawala ako sa focus sa career ko," the 36-year-old said.
Kelly has not won a match since October 2015, suffering five consecutive defeats, the latest a first-round submission defeat to Tetsuya Yamada in May last year in One: Grit and Glory in Jakarta.
That's when Kelly knew a change has to be done.
"Inayos ko yung sarili ko. Nag-iba ako ng background sa Dubai," he shared as he spent the past year in the bustling Middle Eastern city. "Nag-iba ako ng background at naka-focus ako sa training."
Rather than living in regret, the featherweight has accepted his missteps in hopes of regaining ground on his career.
"Hinahayaan ko yung sarili ko na tanggapin yung mga pagkatalo. Ginawa ko yun eh at in-accept ko na I made mistakes," he said. "Ngayon, pipilitin kong bumalik. Sa ngayon, lahat ng athlete nagte-train, so pinipilit kong ibalik yung sarili ko."
Kelly (12-6) gets a chance to do just that when he returns to the Philippines and to the cage on Friday at One: Roots of Honor to take on Korea’s Kwon Won Il (6-1).
"More than 100-percent motivated ako, lalo na dito pa gagawin sa Pinas," he said, with the gravity of this fight not lost Kelly, who sees this as the defining fight for the future of his career.
"Sobrang napaka-importante nitong laban na ito. Dito nakasalalay yung fighting career ko. Alam ko kaya ko pa kaya sobrang importante nito para sa akin," he said.