When you hear about a guy on an MTV reality show that is about to have his first fight, immediately the quick gimmick fighter bells start ringing in your head.
But for Matt Schnell, who was featured in the short-lived "MTV Caged" series, about aspiring MMA fighters in a small town in Louisiana, you get none of the big-headedness or sense of being a star that some people with some reality TV fame often bring to the table. He comes across as humble, and polite almost to a fault, recognizing he's a long way away from his goals in he sport.
"I do not have any delusions of grandeur," said Schnell earlier this week on the MMA Hour. "I'm a young guy. I haven't fought my first professional fight. I've trained with guys far better than me. I've got a lot to prove and a long way to go.
"I've been beaten up enough to know I have a lot to learn."
Schnell faces Ryan Hollis (4-1 amateur, 0-0 professional) in a flyweight bout on Friday night for the Legacy Fighting Championships at the Houston Arena Theater. The card will air live on AXS TV.
Schnell is fully aware that most people aren't debuting on a nationally broadcast show, with him getting an early career break because of the exposure from the show.
"The show was a huge springboard for my career," he said. "It helped me and will continue to help me as I progress and continue on."
Schnell is 10-2 as an amateur, with his recent fights chronicled on the series. He grew up in Shreveport, La., but the show was about aspiring fighter in a small-town, so at the time of the show he was living in nearby in Minden, La., population 13,000.
He hasn't fought in nearly 11 months because he was waiting to see if the series would be renewed for a second season. When it wasn't, he signed a three-fight exclusive contract with the Texas-based organization as step one in his goal to eventually reach the UFC, which he's in no rush to do.
"I don't want to go to UFC, fight twice, lose and not be there anymore," he said.
Being on a television show has some obvious perks, but once the cage door shuts, it's not going to be of a lot of help in winning fights.
"I've got some big name sponsors that I never would have had without the help of the show, a huge fan base and a good following of people who love me and want em to do well."
It was three years ago when Schnell first got picked my producers for the show's pilot episode. But it was slow getting everything together before the first season, which was filmed in 2011. In the first episode that aired, he was 19-years-old, and then in the second episode, he was 21. The show aired from January through March of this year.
"They started to put the show together years ago, probably three or four years ago," he said about his initial involvement. "I got a Facebook message that they were holding casting calls in the city right next to me and I just shows up in a place and tried out. And I made it.
"I was the last person to audition," he said. "I was in Houston cornering one of my teammates and was very late for the casting call. I was nervous I wouldn't get the opportunity. But it all worked out."
As his prize for doing well on the show, he, in the final episode, was picked to train with Tito Ortiz at Kings MMA in Huntington Beach, Calif. At that point he was thinking of making California his home.
"I planned on it." he said. "As things wore on my grandfather actually got very sick. I returned back home. He ended up dying. I buried him. Tito and I could never come to terms with a contract and what would happen. Obviously, I couldn't move with no way of making money and taking care of myself. It was an idea. And then I came to Gladiators Academy to start training. I'm only three hours from home and it's a high level gym. This is where I've been and where I'll train for the next little bit. Me and Tito still have a good relationship. I plan on going to Kings MMA and cross training and putting in more work with high level people."
"I've worked my entire career to be a well-rounded fighter," he said. "I'm a purple belt in Jiu Jitsu under Tim Credeur. I wrestled a little in high school. I won a state Golden Gloves title in boxing and a regional Golden Gloves title in boxing. I work on all my skill sets. I don't feel I have a weakness anywhere. I'm an exciting style fighter, high-paced guy, I fight at 125. I don't think I've been in a boring fight in my entire life. If you're looking to watch a fun fight, watch me fight. I think I'll put on a good show."
He also has some motivation, as a good friend, Noah Randall, was killed by two men who were robbing his apartment on Sept. 2.
He was throwing a party, and came into the apartment and saw all his friends on the ground.
"He went for his gun, got confronted by the guys robbing him, they shot him in the head and killed him. It was very sad and quite devastating to a lot of my friends and myself. I wasn't able to make it to his funeral because I was in the last stages of my training camp. I'm going to honor him as best I can by beating this kid up and doing what I can. He was a good kid. Nobody deserved that. He's a hero in a lot of people's eyes and a hero in my eyes."
Police have since arrested one of the two men believed to have been involved.
"He just got killed for no reason, over a flat screen TV."