Antonio Sheldon went undefeated in 2017 and is working hard to make sure he can build on his progress in 2018. Sport in Profile Magazine recently caught up with Antonio to find out more.
SIP: What first attracted you to MMA?
AS: I worked as a bar man in a gentlemen’s club and they had the ufc fights on the tellies in the background as a feature. So as I’m serving drinks I’m watching the fights. Watching MMA really persuaded me to start training but there was nothing in my area.
In 2002, Full Contact Performance Centre opened in Rochdale and I started training there from the day it opened. Although the training was very hard I really started to enjoy it. After about twelve months I had my first fight.
SIP: What have you enjoyed most during your time?
AS: There are numerous things I have enjoyed about my mma journey but coming up at the top is winning this one fight where in the first round I got a very deep cut over my right eye lid which left me with no vision out of my eye for the further four rounds. This was against a 9-0 undefeated prospect.
Me and him had a war but at the end my hand got raised and I was crowned lightweight British champion. Also being a Brazilian jujitsu coach at full contact performance Center is an absolute honour. Only five and a half years ago I was a day one beginner and now I am a coach there teaching my very own students mma and jujitsu.
SIP: What do you think has been the key to your success?
AS: To be honest when I started mma I didn’t expect to come this far, I’ve simply come this far through hard work, dedication and enjoying it … Ok, and you have to be a bit tough as well!
SIP: What are the biggest challenges you have faced in your career?
AS: One of my biggest challenges of my career is when only seven days out from my fight I got an infection called staphylococcus. This infection is can be fatal so I was on strong antibiotics and fell unwell and was bed bound.
My options were to fight feeling ill or to pull out of the bout. My strong determination took over me and I decided to fight. This match up took place on one of the biggest mma stages in the world and I went out there unwell and finished my opponent via rear naked choke in the second round. I also got a $5000 bonus because of a submission finish.
SIP: What are your plans for 2018?
AS: This year I only managed to fight twice due to an injury which delayed me. In 2018 I expect to get some real momentum going and have around four bouts and finished the year still going strong as a British undefeated pro lightweight.
SIP: Where would you like to be five years from now?
AS: Five years from now I will be one of the best mma lightweights in the world, a world champion and a phenomenal coach.
I would just like to say that mma has changed my life for the better. Not only has it given me a great career, I’ve met some fantastic people, improved my physique, I now eat loads healthier, it’s given me a path to follow and has genuinely just made me into an all-round better person.
I would also like to say thanks to my fantastic sponsors; CVF Bury, Empire Rochdale, Timeware, Graham Tonge Construction, Murphys North West and Truth Clothing.