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Spring 2019Interview with Antonio Sheldon

Professional Mixed Martial Artist

Antonio Sheldon is a professional Mixed Martial Artist from Rochdale. The cage fighter recently signed his largest sponsorship deal to date with fight wear brand Gambaru.

MMA is quite a full-on sport; what first drew you to it?

I used to work behind a bar in a Manchester club, and they used to have UFC on the TV. I was quite amazed by it, but then there was nothing close to me in Rochdale for MMA, which is a mixture of wrestling, boxing, kick boxing, jiu jitsu, and karate, it is so many different disciplines rolled into one.

How did you get started?

Full Contact Performance Centre offered free classes when it opened in 2013, so I went there. I mentioned I would love to do MMA, and I have been training there ever since. I have never looked back and I turned pro around two years ago, having had four professional fights so far.

What do you like most about MMA?

My nine-year-old daughter loves that I do it. She’s actually just started jiu jitsu and judo at Full Contact where we train together on a Tuesday. It keeps her active, but I really enjoy the dad and daughter bonding time we get together through the sport.

How do you prepare for an upcoming fight?

I train all year round, even when I have no fights lined up. About six to eight weeks before, I clean up my diet, say goodbye to the biscuits and begin intermittent fasting, leaving a window where I eat good food that nourishes me. I have to make a specific weight before the fights. Sparring becomes more intense; it’s like a fight in the gym, which is good training.

Do you find the professional world a lot different from the amateur world?

Sort of. I prepare exactly the same, but we have longer rounds for a total 15 minute bout with breaks. It is a lot more intense, but it is not easy no matter how hard you train.

When did you first begin fighting?

It was a year after I first signed up for the classes. I actually began coaching before I turned professional and I still teach Brazilian jiu jitsu and MMA.

What’s the hardest thing about balancing your life?

Definitely rest. You need a good rest between working, coaching, fighting and training, so personally, I find slots through the day where I can get a good rest in.