Nathan Kelly: Fighting at Bellator Champions Series: Belfast, Aiming for PFL Gold

Nathan Kelly: Fighting at Bellator Champions Series: Belfast, Aiming for PFL Gold

Nathan Kelly is one of the best and most exciting of the current crop of young Irish MMA prospects.

He is fighting at Bellator Champions Series: Belfast on Friday 22 March 2024 and his Featherweight fight is one that should definitely not be missed.

Read on if you want to find out more about Nathan Kelly.


Nathan Kelly was brought up in Finglas, North Dublin. He started MMA training at Informed Performance Gym (now called Kyuzo). Like a lot of current Irish MMA fighters, he was inspired by the achievements of Conor McGregor.

Amateur Career

Kelly’s amateur career started in 2014. After building a record of 4-2-0, he was selected to represent Ireland at the 2016 IMMAF World Championships in Las Vegas. He fought five times in six days and went on to win the silver medal in the Featherweight division. He has credited this tournament experience as being crucial in preparing him for the professional game.

His amateur career finished with a record of 10-3-0, which included the silver medal at the 2016 IMMAF World Championships and a win over fellow current Irish MMA prospect, Ciarán Clarke.

Turning Professional

Nathan Kelly turned professional in 2017. He lost his first professional fight by first round stoppage and didn’t deal well with the loss. Nathan also lost his second fight, this time by split decision.

He won his first professional fight by first round submission on 7 October 2018, but didn’t fight again for another three years.

Nathan has been very open about his previous struggles with mental health and this was a period when he struggled. Looking back, he has said that he lacked focus early in his career. He partied and drank a lot, and ate a lot of junk food.

Turning Things Around

By the summer of 2020, Nathan Kelly had had enough and made the decision to change his life around. Although he had stepped back from MMA, he had continued with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Being awarded his black belt reignited his passion and he decided to return to MMA.

Kelly messaged John Kavanagh about joining SBG Ireland and since doing so, he has gone from strength to strength. He fought regularly and won one exciting fight after another.

Current Position for Nathan Kelly

Nathan is currently on a nine-fight win streak and hasn’t lost a fight since 2018. Seven of these nine wins were by first round stoppage.

Although his biggest strength is his ground game, he is also good on his feet and has an excellent all-round game. Of his nine wins, three have been by KO/TKO, four by submission (three by rear naked choke and one by arm triangle choke) and two by unanimous decision.

Kelly has said that he wants to fight regularly, as he has done since his comeback. He fought twice in the second half of 2021, three times in 2022 and three times in 2023. As Bellator are hosting an event at the 3Arena in Dublin on 22 June 2024, we could very easily see him fighting on that card too.

Nathan’s last fight was a particular career highlight. He headlined PFL Europe 4 at the 3Arena. In front of a packed home crowd with a great atmosphere, he beat Dimitry Solimeis by first round submission.

Nathan is fighting Vikas Singh Ruhil at Bellator Champions Series: Belfast on Friday. This will be his fifth fight under the PFL/Bellator banner.

Although this is the last fight under his current contract, Nathan recently told Ian O’Neill that he is looking to sign another contract with them. He is very happy with the organisation and wants to continue with them.

His aim is to feature in and win the $1 million PFL tournament in the United States. Another dominant and exciting win on Friday will certainly move him one step closer to achieving that.

Still only 26, Nathan Kelly’s best years are still very much ahead of him.

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