Matt Schnell was featured on the MTV reality show “Caged” and has used his success from the show to catipult him to a Legacy Fighting Championships contract. The promising flyweight fighter is now 2-0 after his impressive victory over Marcus Dupar at LFC 15 on November 16. We caught up with him to talk about the fight, getting into the UFC, and being a part of the reality show.
How’s it going today?
Things are going good.
You fought at Legacy 15 against Marcus Dupar and won in just over a minute via armbar. Did the fight play out the way you thought it would?
Actually, I thought it was going to be one of those exciting brawl type of fights. He was a heavy-hitting guy. I knew he was gonna come and trade punches with me, so I got ready for what would be a scrap, but it turned out going in my direction quite favorably, and I got it to the mat and was able to get a quick finish. But was it how I played it out in my head? No. But a win’s a win, and it was great to get in there and get a finish.
What made you decide to stand and trade punches even though, as you said, Marcus has “heavy hands?”
I have heavy hands myself, so I really wanted to go out and showcase that. I don’t feel like I’ve really had the opportunity to really showcase much of my stand-up in any of my fights. But I work on stand-up all the time. I’ve got a little experience in amateur boxing, and I felt that I matched up well with the guy. So I really wanted to sit down on my punches, and I wanted to clip him which I ended up doing. Unfortunately it didn’t put him all the way unconscious, which is what I wanted, but we’ve got things that we want to work on and that’s one of them. I’d like to start putting people out with a punch as opposed to just clipping them.
Was there anything that surprised you in the fight with Dupar?
He was strong. He looked like a strong-built guy. But he landed a leg kick right off the bat, and it hurt — it was a good shot. I felt like he was stronger than maybe I had anticipated. Usually at that weight class I feel like I’m the stronger guy, and I might have still been, but he was a strong, well-put-together guy. And like I said, he threw punches at my face, they flew by me, and I was like happy that didn’t hit me. So, he was a strong guy.
This fight took place at 125 lbs, correct?
And is 125 lbs the weight class you plan to fight in, going forward?
Absolutely. I don’t really figure to fight in any other weight class. I feel like I have a good build at 125, and I’m strong, and I don’t think it would benefit me at all to go up a weight class right now.
I know a lot of times it can be hard to find opponents that are willing to fight at 125. Have you had that trouble in your career and maybe had to take fights at a higher weight class than you would like?
Yeah, when I was younger it was a big issue. A lot of times it was hard to find an opponent. I walked at like 135, and I usually fought at 135 because there wasn’t anybody. I think with the UFC recently opening 125 lb weight class there’s plenty out there for me to find and fight. And I fight in a great organization at Legacy and we’ve got plenty of 125ers to go around, I think. So it won’t be an issue moving forward; it was an issue in the past.
This marks your second pro fight and second with Legacy Fighting. How many more fights do you have with your Legacy contract?
As of now, I’ve got one fight left on the contract, but I’m sure we’ll be able to renegotiate that contract. I love the organization. They treat me good. They treat me with respect, and they’re a great organization, obviously they are well-respected. So I think I like where I’m at right now.
So the only thing that would keep you from continuing on with Legacy would be if the UFC called you up?
Absolutely. I’m not crazy; I would definitely jump on that opportunity. That’s the goal. And I think Legacy knows that, and so does everybody who’s around me. The goal is to fight in the UFC. One step at a time, one fight at a time, but I think I’m getting there slowly.
Would reaching the UFC be one of your goals for 2013?
I don’t want to really put a time-line on it. I want to take my career slowly. I feel like I’ll be able to fight at the highest level at some point in my career. Maybe it’s not next year, maybe it’s not the next, but it will happen. I’ll continue to work hard, and it’s not something I try to worry about now. I’m just trying to get better every day and work towards that. Whether the UFC calls or not, that’s on them, but I’ll be preparing myself. So that’s how I gotta look at it right now.
Now I know you said that you started training right out of high school. What led you to want to be a fighter?
Well I was an athlete all through high school. I ran track, played football, wrestled a little bit. I was just always competing, always competing my whole life. From the 6th grade on I was involved in some type of sport or activity. So after highschool was done, I was a small guy, so it’s not like I was gonna go play college football at the next level or anything. But I needed to compete, I needed to do something. And I kind of just fell into MMA, and it happened to be something that stuck with me.
I also know you’re a purple belt in Jiu Jitsu. How long have you been doing that?
Probably as long as I’ve been training. I’m 22 now, so about 4½ years probably.
And how did you become a part of the MTV reality show Caged?
It’s kind of crazy. It has nothing to do with talents or ability on my part. It just happened to come to us. They held casting calls 15 minutes away from where I lived in Louisiana, and I just got a message on Facebook, and I went and tried out and that was it. They came right here to me. Once again, it found me. I stumbled upon it. It was nothing more than that.
Most fans hear “MTV reality show” and think of a certain type of character, but you weren’t portrayed in the standard “MTV reality” light. Were you happy with how you came across on the show? And how close was it to who you really are?
Yeah, I was absolutely happy with how things came out. I think they did a good job of portraying everybody for exactly who they were. And I don’t now if it necessarily helped ratings or anything, but I can honestly say that I’m happy, and I’m proud of the show, and I think they did a great job of portraying me. Maybe made me look a little nicer than I actually am, but, you know, nothing wrong with that.
You were already on one reality show, but if you got the chance to compete on The Ultimate Fighter, would you do it?
Given the opportunity, probably. It’s just that, honestly, if it were my choice, I would rather not go to the show to get in the UFC. I’d rather just earn a contract by beating people up. But if it were something that came up, I don’t know if I could turn an opportunity like that down. It would be just another opportunity to get my name out there, showcase my skills, introduce myself further to the fan base, whoever that may be. Right now most of my following is teenage girls, so it wouldn’t be bad to get a fan base of men who watch fighting.
As a relatively new fighter, who are some of the people that you look up to?
I had the opportunity to go out and spend time with Tito Ortiz out in California, and obviously he’s had a successful career, and I wouldn’t mind doing some of the things he’s done. He took me under his wing and mentored me a little bit. But when I came back to Louisiana and started working with Tim Credeur and Dustin Poirier… those guys — they’re great guys. I don’t know if y’all have had the opportunity to see the documentary Fightville, which is now airing on Showtime, but if you haven’t, go watch it. It’s amazing. But Dustin’s the most motivated guy I’ve ever seen in my life, and just training around him really made me want to be better, not just as a fighter but as a person. And approach everything more professionally. And that’s the influence he’s had on me. And Tim’s a great mentor and I talk to him every day. He’s an awesome dude. And those 3 guys have really influenced me a lot, and I’d like to do some of the things they’ve done.
Where can the fans find you at?
You can find me on Twitter @DANGER_Caged. I’m on Facebook, I’ve got a fan page, and y’all can find me there, too. Chat it up, like my page.
Any sponsors or people you want to thank?
For sure. I’d like to thank my gym: Gladiators Academy in Lafayette. All my sponsors, Tel-State Oil. My management: First Round Management. Also Hayabusa, Hatewear and I think that’s about it.