Former UFC fighter Paul Kelly has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for heroin trafficking in his home country of England.
The 28-year-old and his childhood friend, Christopher St. John McGirr, were arrested last May in connection with a drug trafficking ring in Liverpool and Sefton. Police found marijuana plants, heroin, and large amounts of cash during the raids. Kelly, who fought in the lightweight division of the UFC for three years, was determined to be the mastermind behind the drug ring.
In May, a jury came to a unanimous guilty verdict after a four-day trial, and Kelly was sentenced to a “long” prison term. Judge Mark Brown handed down the 13-year sentence last weekend.
“You were in business with Mr. McGirr supplying heroin to other dealers. You are an individual who has travelled widely in the course of MMA and as such would have contacts abroad,” Brown told Kelly during his sentencing.
“It is significant that the seizures involved large amounts of import quality heroin. In my judgement you decided to supply Class A drugs when your contract with UFC was terminated. You obviously enjoyed the high life and saw selling heroin as an easy way to make money,” he added.
Prosecutor David McLoughlin said that Kelly and McGirr “were not soft enough to get their hands dirty and sought out others to do the dirty work for them.” The duo’s friend, 28-year-old Paul Rogers, was arrested for selling worth up to £10,000 ($15,000) when he was found with £100,000 ($150,000) worth of import quality heroin under his car seat.
Paul Kelly made his UFC debut at UFC 80 on January 19, 2008, in Newcastle. Kelly, who was 7-0 in MMA at that point, took Fight of the Night honors with a unanimous decision victory over Paul Taylor. Three years later at UFC 126, Kelly was again involved in a Fight of the Night, dropping the bout to Donald Cerrone by rear naked choke. He was released from the promotion after the match, finishing his UFC career with a 5-4 record.