As the world of martial arts eagerly awaits ONE Fight Night 14, one competitor stands out as the one to watch: Jessa Khan, the 21-year-old Brazilian jiu-jitsu phenomenon. This Cambodian-American athlete, standing at 4-foot-11, will make her debut for ONE Championship at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Friday, September 29. On this night of electrifying combat sports, Khan faces her old rival Danielle Kelly for the inaugural ONE atomweight submission grappling world title. The event promises to be an unparalleled spectacle of martial arts talent, but for Khan, it marks a particularly momentous juncture in her career.
“It’s definitely a huge step in my career, and I know that the fan base is going to be super excited for this one. I can’t wait to make my debut, even more so that it’s coming against Kelly,” Khan said in a recent interview with Alex Wendling.
Already a decorated competitor, Khan first crossed paths with Kelly earlier this year. In February, she debuted in the black belt category and bested Kelly, setting the stage for this highly anticipated rematch. Since that victory, Khan has continued to make waves, participating in international tournaments and recently securing the 2023 IBJJF World Championships title.
While many might find such a rapid rise to the top dizzying, for Khan, the pace is invigorating. However, she clarifies that while her recent IBJJF win was significant, the stakes are distinctly higher in her forthcoming ONE Championship match.
“This fight is far more unique,” Khan said, emphasising the magnitude of the event. “The chance to meet Kelly for the most coveted golden strap in martial arts is unparalleled.”
While Khan has been collecting accolades, Kelly has been on her own journey of preparation and self-improvement. She’s been sharpening her Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills and compiling an impressive list of wins, effectively upgrading her game. After a series of disciplined, submission-hunting performances on the global stage, Kelly has earned her shot at the inaugural title against the debuting superstar, Khan.
When asked about her thoughts on their upcoming fight, Khan was confident but acknowledged the power of the moment. “I mean, as you said, I just won the biggest world title of my life right now. Whenever people first start jiu-jitsu, whether they’re older or whether like they’re young kids, it’s everyone’s goal is to become an IBJJF black belt world champion,” she expressed in her conversation with Wendling.
For Khan, the ONE Championship debut represents another milestone in a year already marked by them. She stands on the cusp of becoming the promotion’s first female grappling champion, a feat of tremendous importance not just for her but for the sport as a whole. The stage at Singapore Indoor Stadium will offer her an opportunity to solidify her status as one of the most exciting talents in martial arts today.
Adding to Khan’s growing aura is her training environment. She credits much of her success to her rigorous regimen at the Art of Jiu-Jitsu in California, where she trains under the esteemed Mendes brothers—Rafael and Guilherme. These legendary figures in the world of submission grappling have been pivotal in her rapid rise.
“I mean it definitely helps that Professor Guilherme and Rafael have experienced everything that we’re going through now, so they kind of just give us tips about like how it was back in the day. They already know what to expect, so they’re just trying to give us whatever we can to succeed,” Khan elaborated.
ONE Fight Night 14 is shaping up to be a landmark event, not just for the promotion but also for the athletes involved. As Khan and Kelly prepare to face off in one of the evening’s three world championship contests, the martial arts community is abuzz with anticipation.
Will Jessa Khan’s debut culminate in a triumphant coronation, solidifying her as the new force to reckon with in martial arts? Or will Danielle Kelly prove to be the dark horse, seizing the inaugural atomweight title as her own? As the clock ticks down to this epic confrontation, one thing is certain: the world will be watching. And for Jessa Khan, this could be not just a debut but a seminal moment in a career already filled with them.