tony-kelley.jpgThose who know Tony Kelley as an MMA fighter from the MTV show “Caged,” and even many who know him better than that, don’t realize he once thought he would be a rock drummer.

He grew up doing many of the other things kids of Shreveport, La., liked to do, such as biking, skateboarding and exploring in the woods. But he was perhaps most passionate about the drums, which he thought would be his future.

They weren’t. But some of the moves were.

“I think it has a lot to do with rhythm, which you need (for fighting),” Kelley told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “You have to use every limb, and it’s about all parts of the body moving at once.

“You really need balance, which I need now.”

And now, Kelley (1-0) has found balance in his own life while trying to take advantage of his MTV notoriety and overcome any negative perceptions created by the show. His next chance comes on Friday in his second professional fight, when the 26-year-old Lake Forest, Calif., resident takes on Kody Thrasher (1-1) at a Hilia Fights show in Kenner, La. The event is available on Fight Now TV and select pay-per-view providers.

Kelley heads into the fight after ending a difficult period. In January, he was found not guilty of a battery charge, the Shreveport Times reported. The process had cost him plenty of grief, even as he won his professional MMA debut this past September following a lengthy amateur career that included his “Caged” appearance.

With a newfound focus, Kelley is hoping to continue building his MMA career that has roots in a friend encouraging him to start jiu-jitsu classes when he was 19 years old.

“I’m riding this as far as I can go,” he said. “This is important to me, and I’m ready to show people what I’m made of.”

Finding a path

Kelley was born and raised in Shreveport, which provided both the usual comforts of a bigger city but also plenty of room to explore for him and his friends.

He remembers learning an early work ethic from his parents that he said still drives him in his career.

“My mom would walk us miles to a babysitter and then keep walking onto her job,” he said. “She would come get us on the way back home, which was such a long day for her. My dad constantly worked, and they tried to instill that in all of us.”

Smaller than many of his classmates, Kelley said he didn’t participate much in contact sports growing up. He spent most of his time playing the drums, which he thought would be part of his future profession.

“I loved music,” he said. “I had beats in my soul.”

But as he entered his teen years, he described his life as diverging into questionable decisions made to impress others while trying to be like others. After awhile, friends and family members became concerned, and a friend encouraged the then-19-year-old Kelley to get involved in a local jiu-jitsu class to provide some structure.

It worked immediately. He had grown into playing football and lacrosse in high school, so he liked the contact, but he also liked the discipline. Once he got a taste of what it involved, he wanted to do more. He looked for a chance to fight, which came quickly.

“There was a guy I trained with who said there were some fights coming up, and I had been training for about four months,” he said. “I decided to just give it a shot.”

It eventually became much more than he thought it would.

Greater attention

When the MTV officials first came to his part of the state and did interviews for a show about MMA hopefuls, Kelley didn’t make the cut.

He was bummed, but life moved on. He was moving through a substantial amateur career – one he now feels he might’ve entered too quickly, which is why it took time to work out his faults.

Then he got a call that changed things. The producers asked him if cameras could follow him around. He still doesn’t know why they needed someone else, but he decided it was something he wanted to do.

The experience obviously had its benefits. He became known throughout the country as people viewed his life and his MMA skills. But, like with anything, there were some negatives.

“I think some people saw it like we were these hick-town boys in Louisiana who liked (MMA) but weren’t taking it seriously,” he said. “Some people thought were just goofing off and thinking everybody can do it.

“That’s not the way it was at all, but people see different things. It was a great experience, and I’m so thankful for it.”

Then in March 2012, Kelley was accused of assault by a female at a club. It took the better part of a year for the case to move through the judicial system and Kelley to receive the not guilty verdict.

In the meantime, he finished his 19-fight amateur career, which ended in a 15-4 record. Feeling he had ironed out the rough parts of his fighting, he turned professional in September with a victory to start 1-0.

Now with his next pro opportunity, he said he wants to continue moving forward in his career as he hopes to shake off any negative perceptions created by the MTV show.

“I got some stuff off my shoulders, and I’m ready to move on with what I’m doing now,” he said. “I just have to keep my head up and believe in myself.”

Award-winning newspaper reporter Kyle Nagel pens “Fight Path” each week. The column focuses on the circumstances that led fighters to a profession in MMA. Know a fighter with an interesting story? Email us at news [at] mmajunkie.com.

view original article >>
Report here if this news is invalid.

Related News

Watch Andrei Arlovski's epic first-round TKO of Travis Browne at UFC 187

  • 13 days ago
  • 35 views

The UFC has a pair of epic career resurgences going on in the heavyweight division. We’ll soon see what happens when they collide. Before that, watch Andrei Arlovski’s epic bonus-winning TKO of Travi read news >>

After fastest win of career, Thiago 'Marreta' Santos eyes Derek Brunson, Josh Samman

  • 13 days ago
  • 1 views

Thiago “Marreta” Santos needed just 29 seconds to dispose of Steve Bosse in June, so he’s looking forward to a quick return to the octagon, and he’s got a pair of names picked out that he thinks make read news >>

UFC issues statement on Anderson Silva drug suspension, praises ex-champ's 'great career'

  • 18 days ago
  • 13 views

So let me see if I have this right. Former Strikeforce featherweight champion Cristiane Justino is a cheating piece of shit, but former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight champion Ande read news >>

Diego Sanchez says Conor McGregor helped influence decision to drop to 145: ‘The guy is my size, if not bigger’

  • 20 days ago
  • 82 views

Diego Sanchez's career has been one long, meandering road when it comes to the scales. He debuted in the UFC a decade ago, winning The Ultimate Fighter 1 as a blown-up middleweight. Since then he's r read news >>

Ronda Rousey Taunts Cris Cyborg, Brazilian Promises Rowdy's 'Last Fight' in UFC

  • 21 days ago
  • 28 views

Cris "Cyborg" Justino has promised to end Ronda Rousey's career after the UFC women's bantamweight champion insisted the only obstacle preventing a fight between the two is money, not weight. “She's read news >>

Paul Felder vs. Ross Pearson set for UFC 191

  • 24 days ago
  • 1 views

Paul Felder, coming off the first loss of his career, is set to fight veteran Ross Pearson at UFC 191 in Las Vegas on September 5th. A surefire Fight of the Night candidate has been booked for UFC 19 read news >>

Ken Porter Has Opportunity Against Former RFA Champ to Boost His Career

  • 26 days ago
  • 0 views

Ken Porter's star has been rising fast of late, and a win over former RFA champ Matt Manzanares on Friday night would only take him to new heights. read news >>

UFC Fight Night 73's Frankie Saenz is looking for top 10 opponents

  • 26 days ago
  • 0 views

The professional career of Frankie Saenz may have gotten off to a rocky start, but the bantamweight has turned his career around with a six-fight winning streak.Filed under: News, UFC read news >>

Myles Jury drops to featherweight, among four fighters to leave Alliance MMA

  • 28 days ago
  • 33 views

Ranked lightweight Myles Jury has decided to continue his career at featherweight, and has joined a few fighters who are leaving Alliance MMA in favor of an Arizona gym. It looks like Myles Jury is s read news >>

Rousey set to star in movie version of autobiography

  • 29 days ago
  • 1 views

It looks like Rousey's movie career is in full swing as she's got a new project in the works: Starring in the film version of her own autobiography. It's happening, Rousey-ception is upon us. Ronda R read news >>