Zak Kelly finds learning lesson in Art of War victory

Zak Kelly (left) and Josh Stanley (right) pose for a photo following their Art of War 1 main event bout on Friday, April 28, 2017. (Photo Credit: Zak Kelly).

The fight ended as his toughest professional bout to date.

This is how Zak Kelly (3-0 MMA, 1-0 AOW) tells his story of the Art of War 1 main event at the Lanco Fieldhouse in Lancaster, Pennsylvania on Friday, April 28, 2017. The 25-year-old remained undefeated after earning a unanimous decision against Josh Stanley.

After constant action with numerous submission attempts, strikes and reversals, Kelly and Stanley pushed their cardio deep into the contest. Kelly is not surprised the fight lasted all three rounds.

“On one hand, I was surprised I couldn’t put him away, but on the other hand, I’m not surprised,” Kelly said. “I did see a few of his fights online and he’s a very tough dude and he’s in great shape. He has wins by TKO, wins by submission and wins by decision so I knew he was a well rounded athlete and a very game opponent.”

The fight changed Kelly’s perspective of his opponent, but not by much. Kelly respected Stanley before hand, but admires his opponent even more after the decision.

Both fighters pushed the pace. It is something that stood out Kelly.

“It was a very active fight  and we were in the trenches for sure, it was definitely a tough test,” Kelly said. “But I know I have cardio and endurance for days, so I was never worried about getting tired.”

Stanley came into the bout with a (10-7) amateur record, making his pro debut. He survived a arm lock, followed by more ground and pound from Kelly.

He never tapped or quit, just endured. Kelly said he improved after this fight and believes his opponent leveled up after the defeat.

Stanley agrees with the official decision and along with Kelly’s comments.

“We both improved from our bout. While I didn’t get the result I’d hoped for, I don’t think there was a single second that I was out of that fight, even as the smaller and less experienced guy,” Stanley said. “What that means to me is it was any man’s fight from bell to bell.”

It is not the first fight where Kelly faced adversity and he is confident it will not be the last time either. In fact, Kelly recalled facing similar scenarios the amateur levels in MMA and kickboxing.

Like most fighters, Kelly is taking his career one fight at a time, learning along the way. After this bout, Kelly is following the path.

“That fight was a fight where we had to dig deep and fight through adversity,” Kelly said. “So I got to prove things to myself in that fight and overall I just feel that fight made me a better mixed martial artist.

By Connor Northrup








Writing for NJ MMA New since 2011, Connor is passionate about covering local mixed martial arts. He graduated from Temple University’s School of Media and Communications with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. His love for MMA stems from his past as a high school wrestler and jiu-jitsu blue belt. Former UFC fighter Kurt Pellegrino coached Connor in his senior year of high school. He worked as a Rally Sports Desk report for The Philadelphia Inquirer and interned as a sports reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News.