By MARVIN GOODWIN
Of The Oakland Press
Adam Kelso. By Marvin Goodwin.
Enclosed in the steel-caged surroundings confronting an opponent in a mixed martial arts match is what Adam Kelso loves to do best.
But the 26-year-old professional MMA fighter, affectionately known as “Crazy Monkey,” in the annals of extreme fighting, is also comfortable teaching others about his craft.
Kelso, originally from Fenton, helps train MMA fighters at the Fight Club Proving Grounds in Waterford.
That’s when he’s not fighting in a sport where he’s built a 3-0 record as he seeks to keep the victories coming.
A Brazilian Jiu Jitsu specialist with an aggressive attitude in the cage, Kelso got hooked on the sport as a teenager after watching former champ and UFC Hall of Famer Royce Gracie in action.
“That got my attention,” Kelso said.
He spent much of his career training at top gyms in California, New Mexico and Colorado before returning to Michigan, which recently passed legislation for professional mixed martial arts fights.
That measure helped in his decision to come back to Michigan, along with a long-time connection with Joe Battaglia of Birmingham, who also trains and instructs at Fight Club Proving Grounds.
“Me and Joe Battaglia have been friends for years,” Kelso said. “They wanted me to come and teach if I came back to Michigan and I took them up on it.”
One recent training session saw Kelso flip a couple of students with ease, while another saw him stroll around between simulated combat matches, pointing out mistakes as well as the correct procedures and strategy.
“My main goal is to help people accomplish their goals as far as fitness and mixed martial arts,” Kelso said. “It’s going really good.”
While the skill levels of his students, mostly adults, can vary greatly, they’re all the same to Kelso, who puts them all together and lets them have at it. But there’s timely attention and useful wisdom imparted by the pro. Most sessions end with a congratulatory hand slap for a job well done.
Kelso has a King of the Cage MMA pro date set for Aug. 14 in Michigan. He’ll train in preparation for the bout, but he’ll also continue to train others.
“I just love the whole idea of helping people getting in shape,” he said. “It’s really self-improvement is what I get most out of this sport.”