If he could go back in time, Paul Kelly wouldn’t change a thing.
According to the Liverpool, England native, he’d left a life of crime behind years prior to being sentenced to 13 years in prison for heroin trafficking – and for good reason. Kelly (14-5) took a knife to the face in a drug-related incident in the lead-up to his 2008 fight vs. Marcus Davis.
The skeletons in Kelly’s closet eventually caught up to the nine-fight UFC veteran. He accepted it – and knew it was coming. It was finally time to pay the piper.
“Sooner or later you get burned,” Kelly told MMA Junkie. “I think I always expected to get burned at some point, but I didn’t think I was going to get burned at that time. I was done with it. I was done with that life, and it came back at me, but I’m a real guy. I’ve got real expectations. You can’t bitch or moan about it. You’ve just got to get on with it. If you slap someone in the face, and they punch you back, you can’t moan about it. You’ve just got to get on with it. … I end up coming home. I stayed home for the funeral. When I got back, I didn’t even have clothes here. I was done with this country and that whole situation.”
Kelly spent four years locked up, a trying time in maximum security prison. Kelly was trapped in his own thoughts – thoughts of his athletic career being put on hold, thoughts of not being able to be with his family, and the dastardly thoughts of “what if.”
“You literally break down life day by day,” Kelly said. “It gives you the opportunity to look at it through different eyes and a different perspective. You put your positive spin on it. ‘It’s just jail.’ But you can make of it what you will. That’s what I did.”