PFL Sign Conor McGregor protégé Nate 'The Great’ Kelly to Fight on 3Arena Card

Professional Fighters League (PFL) have signed Conor McGregor protégé Nate ‘The Great’ Kelly to fight on their 3Arena card on 8 December 2023.

Aashir Ahmed
Aashir Ahmed

Last Updated: 2023-10-24

Dillip Mohanty

PFL Signs Nate Kelly

Nate Kelly, known for asking UFC owner Dana White for an “advance on his first paycheck” as a child at a press conference is now all grown up and the Conor McGregor protégé has signed with the Professional Fighters League (PFL).

The ever-growing MMA organisation which has signed stars such as Jake Paul and given developmental contracts to Muhammad Ali’s grandson has today signed Nate ‘The Great’ Kelly to fight on their 3Arena card on December 8th. Making him the first-ever Irish fighter to be signed under a developmental contract with a major sports company.

The PFL today made a surprise announcement that their EU final which features an impressive grand prize of over 400,000 Euros will now see the addition of amateur fighters who will be fighting on the night. However, these opening cards will not be competing for the much-talked-about grand prize.

The Tallaght teenager who just turned 19 will be one of the youngest fighters to perform in the 3Arena and on a PFL card. You can find the full interview on the Sportsboom website here.  

The MMA powerhouse signed a developmental contract to fight on the night as an amateur against opponent Calum Seaton. However, as part of the contract, the PFL will help expand his amateur career to take a seat amongst the PFL pro fighters once ready in the flyweight division.

The fight on the night will be contested over three three-minute rounds and will lead into the PFL EU Championship event hosted this year in Dublin’s famous 3Arena venue.

The MMA prodigy Nate Kelly has both a black belt in kickboxing and multiple amateur MMA fights under his belt. Nate has also previously taken home a European Championship for Ireland as well as becoming national champion over 16 times.

Nate currently fights out of Straight Blast Gym HQ (SBG) under the famous coach of Conor McGregor, John Kavanagh, on his pro team and is expecting to make his debut as a professional fighter in the MMA scene in the near future with PFL.

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"I am extremely grateful for this opportunity and I’m ready to take it with both hands and blow the roof off of the 3arena in December. This opportunity has been built off of years of hard work and dedication in the gym and I’m ready to showcase my skills on a huge stage"

Nate Kelly on his upcoming fight in December 2023

Nate who goes by ‘Nate the Great Kelly’ first rose to public attention as a child for asking UFC owner Dana White for “an advance on his first paycheck” to fund his attendance at a UFC fight. Kelly has continued chasing this dream ever since.  

Speaking with Nate said: “I am extremely grateful for this opportunity and I’m ready to take it with both hands and blow the roof off of the 3arena in December. This opportunity has been built off of years of hard work and dedication in the gym and I’m ready to showcase my skills on a huge stage “

Nate who started competing at just four years old, training with stars such as Conor McGregor along the way, added: “Years of hard work is paying off and the sacrifices made along the way will all be worth it when I walk out into my hometown into the 3Arena. Every fighter dreams of this. I’m excited for what’s to come at this stage in my career.”

Speaking with Sportsboom about his journey he said: “I've been in this game a long time. Since four years of age kickboxing, 7 years of age, Brazilian jujitsu at SBG, so 15 years experience total.  

“Somehow, I feel like I just have something that people gravitate towards. Ever since I'm a kid, we've all seen the interviews have when I'm little, some people won’t recognise me now, but I've been in this game a long time and whatever I do always seems to get clicks or attentions for the right or the wrong reasons, but I feel like I have something that I can't really explain but people. Like to gravitate towards.”

When asked if he had any fighters he was inspired by along the way he said: “Yeah, of course. The obvious answer would be Conor. Conor McGregor was in the gym with the kids, so by seeing his rise from coming in when he was only at cage warriors and only starting out his career and the levels that he's reached it’s an inspiration for all younger fighters in the game. So he'd definitely be one of my inspirations.”

While he may be a kickboxing world champion Nate is adamant that he is not “just a striker” adding that he has been “wrestling and grappling” in MMA since age seven.

However, Nate told Sportsboom he didn’t initially get into the game because he loved it. “I started my kickboxing at four because my family was worried for me. I kept fighting on the streets and even when playing football on the pitch so my family noticed I needed an outlet and the next thing you know it’s something I’ve loved doing for 15 years now.

“It’s funny because if you were to look at me then and look at me now, you probably think that kid grew up to be something criminal or something crazy, but I don't know where I'd be without martial arts. It definitely helped me in all aspects of my life. Relationships, family, everything. I feel like a much better person ever since, even though I started young, I feel like I wouldn't be anywhere near where I am now without martial arts. So it's exciting news that one of the leading MMA organisations have taken me on board and are going to help me build and grow my amateur career and going to start in the 3arena,” Nate told Sportsboom.

“It’s a big dream for all Irish fighters from all ages. Some people's end goals is to fight in the 3arena and for me to be probably the youngest MMA fighter, it's crazy and I'm just excited to build on that, then get the win in the 3arena and then keep building on that and then eventually when I go pro to be able to sign with the PFL as well is amazing opportunity, long time coming.”

Nate said that his short-term goal “is to just keep improving every day” and “elevate” his game. “Stay in the gym, stay disciplined, and then fight as much as possible. Stay as active as possible. Get as many amateur fights and then start making some money.”

Meanwhile, his long-term goal is the same goal he has had since he was a kid. “When I first walked into kickboxing, I wanted to be the best kickboxer in the world and then when I transitioned over to MMA and jujitsu, I wanted to be the best mixed martial artist in the world. And that goal has never changed. So I want to be the best mixed martial artist in the world.”

Speaking about his opportunity with PFL Nate said that he is “very grateful”. He added, “people may think that I'm lucky but it's been built on years of hard work, being constantly in the gym 24/7. I have given my life to this game since I was four years of age and it's nice now to see that I am reaping the rewards of hard work. It's not luck. it's none of that. It's I've worked hard my entire life and it's nice to see an opportunity, a big opportunity like this come my way.  

“I'm very, very grateful, as people may say, ‘Oh, he's this kid from the press conference‘ or ‘he's a talker‘ or he is whatever they may say, it's me versus another man inside the Octagon and then I need to let the performance speak for itself. And I feel like now I am constantly elevating every single day. I've got the best team around me in SBG. I have got the best coaches around me with John Kavanagh and the other lads. I have got good people around me and I feel like on December 8th the performance will speak for itself.

“We will get the experience in with the amateurs, see how quickly I steamroll through everyone in that. And then we'll hopefully be aiming in the next two years or so to go pro, and then it's only going to go from there.”

Aashir Ahmed
Aashir AhmedMMA Writer

Aashir Ahmed specializes in translating current events into engaging written pieces. With a diverse audience spanning from children to adults and native to foreign language speakers, he strives to make articles accessible to all. Aashir's goal is to ensure that readers can easily grasp the information he conveys by formatting his articles for clarity and comprehension.