Australian Olympic hero Daniel Kelly came from behind in a big way, Saturday, to score a third-round TKO victory over the much younger Antonio Carlos Junior at UFC Fight Night: Mir vs. Hunt. The Brazilian dominated Kelly in the first round, taking and holding the Judoka's back for almost all of the period.
Kelly stayed in the game with good hand-fighting to defend the choke, but Carlos Junior scored punches with his right hand and used his left to land elbow strikes and hold onto a half-nelson from behind.
With 12 seconds left in the round, Carlos Junior switched to an armbar attempt. He flipped Kelly over but didn't have time to finish the lock before the round ended.
In the second round, Kelly began to rally. He defended Carlos Junior's first four takedown attempts of the round, and took his back, scoring with right punches while maintaining waist control with his left.
Carlos Junior scored with his fifth takedown attempt of the round and took Kelly's back, once more. The 38-year-old defended the choke and worked his way back up to his feet with a minute left.
The Aussie came out firing at his 26-year-old foe, connecting with a left-cross to the head. Carlos Junior connected with a knee to the belly that was called low by the ref.
It certainly didn't look low, and Kelly didn't take much of his offered five-minute rest. Once the action resumed, Kelly attempted a takedown.
Carlos Junior defended it but then got caught with a left front snap kick to the jaw on separation from the hustling Kelly. From there, Kelly locked on a front headlock and then took the Brazilian's back.
Carlos Junior rolled to his back and locked up a half guard but Kelly didn't give him a second to breathe as he let rain down elbows and punches. The action brought the Brisbane crowd to a roar and soon prompted the referee to stop the fight, after about 20 strikes went unanswered from Kelly to Carlos Junior's head.
The end came at 1:36 of the third and final round.
"Quit making me the underdog. Every fight I'm the underdog!" Kelly shouted, afterwards.
The win improves Kelly's MMA record to 11-1, and drops Carlos Junior's to 5-2, with one No Contest. "I'm here to say," Kelly announced.
"For as long as my body holds up, I'm here to stay."