When MTV started airing the reality TV show called “Caged” it was met with a lot of criticism from MMA fans. It seemed like another opportunity for a group of individuals to gather their 15 minutes of fame and move on. The problem was quite clear; MMA fans did not appreciate the sport they love being used as such a vehicle.
After watching a few episodes it became apparent that the group of fighters that were selected were not very talented and were more interested in hanging out with their friends drinking or chasing after girls. One individual stood out head and shoulders above the rest of them, not only talent wise, but his maturity level and dedication quickly grabbed everyone’s attention.
Matt “Danger” Schnell was young and had a lot of pressure placed upon his shoulders, yet he went to the gym every day and trained harder and longer than anyone else. After the show’s conclusion Schnell was signed by Tito Ortiz and given a great opportunity to train and learn from one of the best the sport has ever seen.
In just seven days, Schnell will make his professional debut in Houston, TX. He has been signed by Legacy Fighting Championships and will have his fight air live on AXS TV formerly known as HDNET. Schnell is chomping at the bit to get going and feels like he’s in a great place.
“Things are going well, I’m feeling really strong, we’ve put together a great camp here in Lafayette, LA,” Schnell told BJPenn.Com. “I am training at Gladiator Academy with Tim Credeur and Dustin Poirier. By the time fight night comes around it’ll have been 11 months since I last fought. I am really antsy and anticipating this fight. I couldn’t be happier and I’m ready to make my pro debut.”
After the last episode Schnell and Tony Kelly flew out to California to train with Team Punishment. Although his trip was cut short, he still has a ton of respect and gratitude for Ortiz and everything he did for him.
“I am no longer part of Team Punishment though I did go out and train with Tito for about 3 months,” said Schnell. “It was a great experience and he took great care of us. I had a good time and learned a lot, but my grandfather got sick and I had to leave abruptly. We were unable to get together afterwards in terms of a contract, but I have a ton of respect for him. He did a lot for me and my career.”
With an amateur record of 10-2, Schnell knows fighting professionally is a whole different ballgame. There will be a lot more eyes on him and with that comes a lot more pressure. He has taken the time to get to know his opponent and what his strengths and weaknesses are.
“My opponent is Ryan Hollis and he fights out Cleveland,” said the 22-year-old Schnell. “He’s a tall lanky guy with tricky BJJ off of his back. I don’t think his wrestling is any good. His striking is tricky and he switches stances a lot. It’ll take me a minute to figure it out. He’s a solid opponent and like myself he’s an amateur champion who fought for multiple promotions. It’ll be a good first fight for me.”
Eight of Schnell’s 10 victories have come by way of submission. He is very quick to point out that he doesn’t consider himself strong in one area alone. He has dedicated himself to becoming proficient in every area of mixed martial arts and is willing to put in the hard work to accomplish that goal.
“I’ve worked my entire career to be well rounded,” offered the man they call Danger. “I work every aspect of my game, there’s no area that I am not capable of fighting in. I won two Golden Glove titles and a state and regional title in boxing. I just recently got my purple belt in BJJ from Credeur and I work my wrestling constantly. I think I’m strong in all areas. I’m a fighter, I work hard and I take this sport very seriously. I look forward to showcasing my skills and my talents.”
Becoming a fighter was something he wanted from a very young age. Just like everyone else he was hit with various distractions, but rather than let them throw him off course he used them as motivation to get better.
“It took a lot of hard work to get to this point,” Schnell said. “Throughout the show, everyone has a life and distractions, but this is something I knew I wanted to do and I wasn’t about to let anything get in my way. I’ve got a long way to go and I understand the sport and the dynamics of how things turn out sometimes. A bad night or a bad performance is the difference between winning and losing. I’m going to take it one fight at a time. I have set goals my entire career and I’ve met every one of them and I don’t plan on stopping now.”
During the taping of the show, Danger watched his mom deal with problems of her own. Whether they were financial or alcohol related, Schnell was always there right by her side. With his dad in Florida he also had a difficult time getting him to understand why he wanted to become a fighter. Those days are past them now and the future for all of them is bright.
“I think the show kind of brought it to their attention that I am capable of making a living doing this,” stated Schnell. “They are very supportive; they support everything that I do. Both of my parents will be at the fight screaming their heads off. My mother is doing much better; she was able to get out from under her problems. Everything has worked out and we are all moving forward from here.”
As the fight gets closer so does the anxiety, but after all that he has been through, Schnell is extremely excited and well prepared for his fight with Hollis. He is ready to show the world that he is not a reality television star. He is ready to show everyone he is a talented mixed martial artist.
“I’ve been in the gym and grinding. I’ve been training with some of the greatest trainers in the world,” Schnell said proudly. “I was training with Rafael Cordeiro, Ortiz and Jason Parillo, who helped me a lot with my striking. Anything they had seen of me in the past they can expect to see a 100% better fighter than they have ever seen. I worked hard every day and I look forward to showcasing it.”Tags: Caged, Dustin Poirier, featured, Jason Parillo, Legacy Fighting Championships 14, Matt "Danger" Schnell, MTV, Rafael Cordeiro, Tim Credeur, tito ortiz