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Inspirational story of Nate Kelly, whose incredible dream as kid at Conor McGregor press conference is almost a reality
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Inspirational story of Nate Kelly, whose incredible dream as...


IF YOU recognise the name Nate Kelly, chances are he looks a lot different than what you remember.

Because Kelly was just a kid when he went viral in 2015 for promising UFC president Dana White and Conor McGregor that he would be an MMA world champion.

Nate Kellt vowed to become an MMA champion at Conor McGegor’s press conference Kelly made the vow as a boy The young Irishman is on the way to fulfil his promise

Now, having been mentored by superstar McGregor, the 19-year-old Irishman is on his way to fulfilling his vow.

Kelly has signed for the Professional Fighters League, a rival to the UFC, and makes his promotional debut on Friday in Dublin.

It will give the prospect the chance to prove to MMA fans what he warned all those years ago.

Kelly told SunSport: “Even if you watch back the press conference when I got up on the mic, all the stuff I was saying is stuff I’ve been saying for years. 

“I think it comes from the self belief, the kind that if you don’t have you won’t go very far. 

“You need that self belief to know you are the best, you can be the best and you can go far with it. 

“Even with all the hype building up and me signing with the PFL, it feels normal. I manifested this moment and I feel like I’ve been here before. 

“I knew I’d be here and now I am. It feels right that I’m here and in this position. It feels normal.” 

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A hyperactive Kelly first took up martial arts aged four to help blow off some steam and improve his behaviour.

What followed over nearly two decades was junior, national, European and world titles in kickboxing, jiu jitsu and MMA.

He said: “I had my first kickboxing tournament at five and every year since then I’ve been consistently competing in all different sports, kickboxing, MMA, jiu jitsu. 

“What drives me to stay in the gym and stay disciplined is that I love the sport and I love improving. I love getting better.”

Kelly joined Dublin’s famed Straight Blast Gym at seven, but McGregor had not yet hit the never-before-seen MMA heights.

He revealed: “At the time Conor was still in Cage Warriors. He hadn’t really blown up and Irish MMA hadn’t either.

A young Kelly with UFC president Dana White Kelly has been mentored by McGregor The two formed a bond

“People would kind of look at you a bit weird when you told them you were going down to grapple with men for a few hours.

“It wasn’t as big of a sport as it is now of course, it was only three or four years after that when everything went crazy over here.

“MMA went huge and of course Conor went huge and so did the whole sport.”

Kelly had a front row seat for McGregor and MMA’s meteoric rise.

He said: “It’s mental, to see where the sport has come in the past few years, especially where I started. 

“To see the gym, SBG how much we’ve evolved it’s unbelievable to see and of course we owe a lot of that – if not all of that – to Conor because of how much impact he’s made. 

“And not only in the Irish MMA scene but the MMA scene all across the world. MMA wouldn’t be half as a big a sport had it not been for Conor. 

Kelly has credited McGregor for the rise in MMA The two train at Dublin’s Straight Blast Gym McGregor poses in the gym with McGregor

“We owe a lot of credit to Conor for being able to push it mainstream and kick the door down for other young Irish talent coming up and follow in his footsteps.”

McGregor remains a role model and inspiration to Kelly’s career even today.

Kelly said: “He’s a student of the game. Any class he’s at, he’s always the first to ask questions. 

“He’s always willing to help other people if they ask him a question or if they want to train with him. 

“He’s always there to help people, and especially myself since I was a kid I’ve been bothering him to spar and to train and he’s never said no to me.  He’s a real good person to have in the gym.” 

Kelly, still an amateur in MMA, faces Northern Ireland’s Callum Seaton in a showcase bout on the PFL Europe final card.

He plans to remain amateur next year and will access his options in 2025 – but first he plans to put on a show against Seaton at the 3Arena.

Kelly said: “Wherever he’s good, I’m better there. He doesn’t pose a threat to me in any area.

“He’s not a walkover, he’s a tough guy but I’m ready to show the level I’m at and how good I am.” 

Kelly with Conor McGregor’s head trainer John Kavanagh



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