In the summer of 2012, Nathan Williams sat down in front of his computer, opened up an internet browser, and in the search field, typed, “MMA gyms.” X3 Sports was one of the first results. He clicked the link, checked out the website, liked what he saw, and signed up for a free class. The rest, as they say, is history. He took the class, fell instantly in love with MMA, and became an X3 member that same day.
Fast-forward nearly 10 years and Nathan — aka “Nasty Nate” — is already well into an impressive and promising MMA career. As Georgia’s #1 ranked pro featherweight, he continues to rack up one achievement after the next in his relentless pursuit of the ultimate goal: a world title. With this level of dedication and determination, you won’t be surprised to hear about Nate’s latest accomplishment as an MMA fighter: this September, he signed with Professional Fighters League (PFL), cementing his status as a pro fighter.
We recently caught up with Nate to ask him about this latest career milestone and to learn more about him and his MMA journey to date.
Since we last spoke with you, you’ve signed with the Professional Fighters League (PFL). Tell us more about that — what it means to you and what it means for your career.
Signing with the PFL is a huge deal! There are three top-tier promotions in the U.S.: UFC (of course), Bellator, and the PFL. It is a dream come true — a life-changing experience where I know I hold my future in my hands (literally).
Give us some insight on what it’s like to live life as an MMA pro. Can you please describe “a day in the life of Nate Williams”?
A day in the life of “Nasty Nate” is as follows: If I’m in fight camp — training for a fight — first I wake up and take my kids to school. Then I come back home and get my bag ready to head to the gym. I make a smoothie then head to training around 11am. I train from 11am to about 1:30pm. I go pick my boys up from school at around 3pm, take them home to my wife, and catch some light lunch. Around 5:30pm, I turn around and head back to the gym for training. I train from 6pm to 8:30pm. Then I head home for some dinner and some quality time with my wife.
What do you feel is the most challenging part of being a professional MMA fighter? What’s the most rewarding part?
The most challenging part about being an MMA fighter is balancing training with daily life. You want to put all your focus into training and recovery, but you also have to set aside valuable time for family. I can’t neglect them in this entire process.
The most rewarding part of being an MMA fighter is getting the W — the win! That’s what we do it for. Nothing replaces a solid W at the end of the day.
We know that Demarques Jackson gave you your MMA nickname, “Nasty,” seemingly on a whim right before your second amateur fight. But since then, it’s stuck. Why do you think that is?
I assume the nickname has stuck with me thus far because I embraced it. Now I make sure to put emphasis on the name when I step into the cage. My skills show why my nickname is appropriate.
When you look back at your journey to date, what are some of the moments that stand out for you?
The biggest moment that stands out to me is winning the NFC professional featherweight title! I only had 4 fights at the time as a pro and faced a seasoned veteran who had over 15 fights. I got the TKO in the third round! That’s my only TKO/KO to date.
At X3, you’re helping to train up-and-coming fighters. What do you enjoy most about that?
I enjoy when I see the fighters I am training have success themselves — especially from the moves and techniques we taught! That warms my heart.
You’re also training other X3 warriors who are focused on other personal fitness goals. What do you do to keep them inspired? How do they inspire you?
To keep our warriors inspired, I give them the same type of workouts we do as professionals (with small modifications). I let them know that they are getting the same training as the pros — that gets them fired up. They inspire me by working hard. I want to make them happy to say I train them.
Have you ever been training one of our warriors and thought, “This person has what it takes to be an MMA pro”? If so, what did you do?
Not often does that thought cross my mind. But when it does, I make sure to tell them that they can have a real future in the sport if they take it seriously.
Back to your career: tell us about your preparation for a fight. What do you do to get ready? Does that vary from one fight or opponent to the next?
I train 5 to 6 days a week, two times a day. It is a daily grind to get ready to step into the cage. The preparation is mostly the same for every opponent. As long as I am the best me in the cage, then that is what they need to worry about.
For some fighters, one of the most brutal parts of the sport happens outside the ring, with the weight cut. What’s that like for you?
My weight cut is difficult at times. It just depends if I’m fighting at 145 or 155. At 155, the weight cut is a breeze. Dropping down to 145 is where the “struggle becomes real.”
What MMA skills are you currently focused on fine-tuning or developing?
All of them! I want to be the most well-rounded fighter in the game. I copied my style from Demetrious Johnson.
Either inside or outside your current BJJ skillset, what’s your favorite BJJ move (hold/submission)? Do you have a go-to move of your own? Which one would you love to get a win with some day?
The REAR NAKED CHOKE! If I could win every fight with a rear naked choke, I would! I love taking people’s backs and I am very good at it.
Which MMA fighter is your favorite of all time? Who is your favorite right now?
Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson.
Not to call anyone out, but is there someone who you’d love to fight — to test your skills against?
Never give up! It will be so easy to do that or “let other things” get in the way. If this is really what you want, you have to be willing to sacrifice to obtain it.
What’s the next big step for you as you continue to ascend the ranks?
On October 27th, I’ll be fighting in the 2021 PFL World Championships in Miami, Florida, which will be airing on ESPN+. So that’s what’s next — win my fight and keep climbing the PFL ranks to become a world champion!
We are so excited for Nate and couldn’t be prouder to play a role in his continuing rise up the pro ranks. If you’re inspired by Nate’s story and want to learn more about MMA, check out X3’s amazing lineup of classes! We have boxing, kickboxing, Muay Thai, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) classes designed for warriors at every skill and fitness level. And, because all of X3’s trainers are seasoned practitioners of their arts, you’ll be getting the same high-end training and attention that the pros do. So sign up today and, hey, maybe one day you’ll be featured in an X3 blog, too.