Brad “Machine Gun” Kelly made his amateur mixed martial arts debut more than a decade ago before transitioning to the professional side of competition in 2014. After years of competing on the regional circuit, Kelly decided to transition to bare knuckle late last year, recording his first ever win in a sanctioned, gloveless fight.
“It’s a different pace than MMA,” Kelly said of his bare knuckle experience. “When you first come out of MMA you get to dictate the pace. They start you off nose to nose. The faster pace allows for you to fight to initiate a clinch. There’s no takedowns, elbows, or knees so that kind of threw me for a loop for a bit. I had to get my wits about me. It’s a different sport. You have to grow into it. If you’re gonna do it, you have to do it.”
After his win over Kaine Tomlinson at BKFC 15 in December 2020, “Machine Gun” Kelly signed a new three-fight deal with Bare Knuckle FC. The first opponent in his way as part of the new deal is Elvin Brito, and the fight goes down this Friday night, March 19 at BKFC 16.
“The publicity is the main thing,” Kelly said of the move to bare knuckle from MMA. “I fought MMA for a really long time and never really got out of Mississippi. I sold a lot of tickets and tables for some of the promoters on the local shows. I fought Brandon Davis in my last MMA fight. I lost a close split decision but it didn’t really open up any doors for me. I was like ‘you know what… just try bare knuckle.’ It was blowing up. I wanted to go in and be a part of it. I got in there, got my first fight, and got my first win. So, here we go.”
When asked if he would like to go back and forth between the sports of bare knuckle and MMA, Kelly seemed to be content with where he is currently at in his combat sports journey.
“At this point in my career it is about how much money I can make,” Kelly said. “I’m in my advanced years in the fight world. I kind of have to get it in where I can get it and make as much money as I can. MMA doesn’t really pay that much. I’ve been making the same amount of money in my last six or seven fights. I’m kind of done with that. Bare Knuckle is a growing sport. I’m promised more money down the road if I win a few fights. I can’t come into a new promotion expecting to be the star of the show. I’ve got to take the good with the bad and get as many fights as I can. I feel like I can get more fights in with BKFC than MMA because you don’t get hurt as much. You can get a broken hand if you don’t carefully pick your shots but other than that, as long as you are accurate and precise with them, you won’t hurt your hands too much.”
Brito may have more experience inside the BKFC squared-circle but Kelly doesn't see that as being a factor in the fight's outcome.
“I’m a pretty humble guy,” Kelly said. “I’m always confident in my striking and everything. I know I’m fighting a very tough guy in Elvin Brito. I know he’s fought Luis Palomino, Kaleb Harris, Jim Alers. He’s a tough guy but I’m confident in my striking and I know my abilities so I’m not even worried about his striking. I think my defense is going to give him a problem. I’m a good counter-striker, I have good defense, and I can throw a punch. I just think I beat Elvin everywhere.”
With the Brito fight being the first of three to come with his new contract, Kelly has had time to think about other possible matchups that interest him.
“I’m not trying to be a bottom feeder and hang out at the bottom, but I’m also not trying to jump anybody at the top either," Kelly said. "This is Joe Elmore’s house at 165-pounds so I want to test myself against him or somebody like him. I don’t want to call out people that I know I can beat. I want to fight someone who can potentially take my head off. I would love to drop to 155 and fight Palomino one day. He has beautiful head movement, counterpunches, and he is just a really tough guy.”
Headlining BKFC-16 is a lightweight grudge match between Leonard ‘Bad Boy’ Garcia, (18-13-1), fighting out of Lubbock, TX and Joe ‘The Hitman’ Elmore, (13-12), of Atlanta, GA.
Co-featured and making his BKFC debut, Former Boxing World Champion DeMarcus ‘Chop Chop’ Corley of Washington, D.C. clashes with BKFC veteran Reggie ‘Eaz-E’ Barnett Jr. of Virginia Beach, VA in a bantamweight bout.
Tickets for BKFC-16 are Now On-Sale starting at $55 and may be purchased through the BKFC website, www.bkfc.com. The Biloxi Civic Center is located at 578 Howard Street, Biloxi, MS 39530. Doors will open on the night of the event at 6PMCT with the first bell at 7PMCT.