Before Chad Kelly takes on Richie Santiago at CES 42 on March 31 at Twin River Casino in Lincoln, R.I., the Massachusetts fighter caught up with ProMMANow.

Is Richie Santiago correct when he says he can knock you out, as he told us?

No, I don’t think so. Obviously, when you are in a fight, you have to expect to win and beat the person in every area. So he may believe that. But, I think I’m just better and more seasoned. I think I fought better competition. I think he’s good but I don’t think that knocking people out is his area of expertise.

Richie says that if he takes you to the ground, he can win this fight. But because you’ve challenged him to stand out, he’s going to knock you out. Is that a good game plan on his behalf?

I think that me, personally, I don’t go into a fight with a specific game plan – expecting to do one thing and win. I think it’s best to be able to win everywhere and just do your thing and see how it goes naturally. I think his best bet is going for the take down and I think he will – that’s his game. I mean, I don’t think it’ll work.

How do you see this fight going?

Honestly, I could see myself winning in any way. I can beat Richie Santiago anywhere. I could see myself winning by knockout. I could see myself winning by a hard-fought decision. Or submission – I have a lot of submission wins, too. I have two wins as a pro by submission and three or four as an amateur. So I feel like I can win either way. If he wants to stand up, I think I have a pretty significant advantage in striking. But I think I can win anywhere. As long as I’m winning, that’s all that matters.

What will this victory mean for your career?

Every fight’s important to me. Every win is big. I like these fights with a little hype behind them – that’s cool. So that part of it is cool. Every fight’s important – I don’t think it’s going to be bigger than any other fight I’ve had. It’d definitely be cool. Fighting for CES is a cool thing – it’s good exposure. In terms of that, it will definitely help.

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