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Asian MMA: Eric Kelly among three former champs making a comeback at URCC 24: Uprising

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Former URCC champions Eric Kelly, Marcus Valda, and Ali Khatibi will be returning to their roots as they all look to make triumphant comebacks at the next URCC event this November.

Photo by Anton Tabuena

Three Filipino stars and former URCC champions are set to make their much anticipated returns at URCC 24: Uprising on November 30.

Former URCC heavyweight champ Marcus Valda will jump right back in the mix after a hiatus from the sport, as the decorated wrestler will look to dethrone current champ Igor Subora (4-1). His DEFTAC teammate and former URCC featherweight champ, Ali Khatibi will also be making a comeback as he renews their rivalry against Submission Sport when he takes on Adrian Hillana.

After Khatibi's reign at featherweight came one of the most popular champions ever produced by the promotion in Eric Kelly (9-1). Through the years, he has rose through the international ranks and established himself as one of the top featherweights in Asia. According to a report from Zike Sugawara, this ONE FC contender and former URCC champ is now set to make his return against a yet to be named unbeaten fighter from China.

Kelly was last seen losing to Honorio Banario in a ONE FC featherweight title fight he considers as the biggest mistake of his career, as he felt that he shouldn't have taken in the first place. Having not allowed proper time in-between bouts to heal up injuries to his eye and his leg, Kelly says not only wasn't he able to properly train for the biggest fight of his life, he also aggravated them during the bout. Most pundits considered him the favorite, but as he went down when his eyesight was compromised on the fourth round, it let to the first defeat of his career and cost him the chance to be the first ONE FC champion.

All three champions never really lost their URCC title bouts as they simply vacated their belts for various reasons outside the ring. Both Valda and Khatibi were one of the country's earlier stars who decided to go on a hiatus from competing, as the sport was still at it's infancy back then. Kelly on the other hand, had to drop his title after some contractual and scheduling issues that prevented him from defending his title.

As one of the longest running promotions in Asia holds their 24th major event, Kelly, along with the two other former champs will have a lot to prove when they look to return to their roots and reclaim the glory they once had. Stay tuned as we give you more updates on the card as they become available.

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