Nathan Kelly Talks Quitting Job to Focus 100% on MMA Ahead of Centurion FC Fight

Interview with Nathan Kelly above

SBG Ireland featherweight Nathan Kelly (4-2) looks to extend his win streak to five in a row this weekend when he takes on Aridane Romero Rodriguez (8-1) at Centurion FC in Malta. After losing his first two pro fights, the Dubliner emerged through a mentally tumultuous period to mount an impressive streak on the Irish regional scene. With back-to-back KOs in 2021, the BJJ black belt earned a call-up to Bellator, where he overcame Scott Pedersen in front of a hometown Dublin crowd.

Until now, Kelly has been balancing his MMA training with working a full-time job as a manager in supermarket chain “Aldi.” But as the Finglas fighter gears up for his latest rumble, he explains that it was time to close that chapter, and begin a new one as a full-time professional athlete:

“After Bellator, I was on such a high after winning! I felt on top of the world. I fought on Bellator on Friday, and I was back in work on Monday. I was coming from such a high back down to reality, and then my manager is telling me she might stick me on a week of overnights at Easter. She was just saying these words to me, they were going into my head, and instantly in that moment I was like ‘I can’t do this anymore!’”

Though fighters are known for their bravery, resilience, confidence, and countless other admirable traits, they’re still just regular human beings too. As such, it wasn’t easy for Kelly to just say goodbye to a stable income that had routinely provided for him.

“It took me a few weeks to even get up the balls to leave, because it’s such a financial jump to change. I was making good money as a manager, and then suddenly you’re not making that money anymore.”

Unfortunately for fighters navigating the opening chapters of their pro careers, MMA just isn’t a sport that can guarantee you a) a decent paycheck and b) a consistent decent paycheck. It’s a difficult process developing your skill set in the hope of one day becoming a champion, while also ensuring you can afford to keep a roof over your head. Irish fans will recall Team Ryano cult hero Neil Seery maintaining a full-time job as a warehouse manager throughout his UFC career. For Kelly though, it didn’t sit right with him to not throw everything he can into striving for greatness, and that meant that the distraction of his job had to be eliminated.

“I don’t want to be that guy who’s in a bar when he’s 50 saying ‘when I was 20, I used to be a good fighter, I could have been the next champion! I just didn’t do this/didn’t do that.’ I don’t want to be that guy!”

“I want to be the guy who’s sitting around everyone saying “I did this. I want to be the guy whose actions speak louder than his words!”

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Andy Stevenson
Andy Stevenson is an MMA writer, interviewer, and occasional podcaster based in Dublin, Ireland.