Interview with OC Fighter: Thomas Kenney

 Interview with OC Fighter: Thomas Kenney

I first met Thomas Kenney when my friend, Jorge, invited to their MMA school back in 2003.  I’ve always been into martial arts so I checked it out.  This wasn’t your average martial arts gym,  the session was on a Thursday morning and they were going all out with their drills and grappling.  Kenney was the head instructor for the day, he quickly introduced himself, and asked me if I wanted to train with them.  I happily agreed and grappled with his students. I learned a lot of new techniques that day. Kenney is a great teacher, who is passionate about martial arts.

Fast forward 6 years later, Kenney is now a well known MMA fighter in Southern California, and a King Of The Cage veteran. He will also headline the next Long Beach Fight Night card in April. His passion for the art hasn’t changed. He still loves to teach, train, and fight.  I recently caught up with Kenney and asked him several questions regarding his MMA experience, as well as his personal life.

NERDSociety(NS): How did you get started in martial arts and what was your first style?

Thomas Kenney(TK): I wrestled all 4 years in high school. One day in the wrestling room we were all talking about some trouble that we had caused the previous weekend and my coach overheard me talking. He came up to me and asked me if I thought I was tough and as any 18 year old would reply, I said hell yes. So he entered me into my first pro fight a couple weeks later. That was my introduction into MMA.

NS: I’m assuming you got your bbj black belt from John De La O, where did John’s belt lineage come from?

TK: Yeah I received my Black Belt from John De La O. John worked for Relson Gracie back in the 90’s and was a brown belt under him. John left and was later given his Black Belt by Joe Moreira.

 Interview with OC Fighter: Thomas Kenney
Kenney about to enter the ring.

NS: How long did it take you to get the black belt?

TK: I started training in Jiu-Jitsu back in 99 and pretty much trained everyday and was given my Black Belt in 06.

NS: How often do you train?

TK: I train 6 days a week with Sundays off. I’m pretty much on the mats from open to close at the dojo. The only time I leave is to go eat and train at the boxing gym down the street.

NS: Do you also have a full time job?

TK: My full time job is teaching. I teach 5 days a week and then on the weekends. I also work as a bouncer at a sports bar in Newport Beach.

NS: How do you balance between training and teaching full time?

TK: My dad told me a long time ago to find something you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life. John helped me turn a hobby into a career. I never look at training and teaching as work. I am very lucky to do something that I love.

NS: Have you ever used your MMA skills outside the cage/ring?

TK: I try to talk my way out of situations but there has been a few times I’ve had to restrain someone. Fighting for me is a way to test myself inside the ring/cage but not in the streets. I’m not a thug, or someone who has to prove something to anybody.

NS: In King Of The Cage, it looked like you were getting Aaron Weatherspoon with the kimura but the referee, Cecil Peoples, stopped the momentum to check on your cut. Do you think that you would have gotten the submission if Peoples didn’t intervene?

TK: I get asked about that alot, but I think Cecil could have stopped the fight beforehand. I mean I was bleeding all over the place, and Aaron was just on his A game that night. He was faster and just 2 steps ahead of me. Cecil and all the refs have a terrible job, because no-matter what they do, people will always criticize them. Being a referee is a thankless job, but I was glad he didn’t stop the fight though.

 Interview with OC Fighter: Thomas Kenney
Peoples stopping the fight as Kenney goes for a sub

NS: Are you fighting in in the next Long Beach Fight Night, if so, who’s your opponent?

TK: Yes, I’ll be fighting in the next Long Beach Fight Night, April 19Th @ Long Beach City College against Erek Meaders. Meaders is a tough opponent but all of his stats aren’t on the fight finders. If you look him up, his record doesn’t look that impressive but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. This is going to be a real tough fight for me.

TK: Any of your teammates fighting?

NS: Scott Brommage is on the card he just started to train with us about 2 months ago.

TK: Besides training, what else do you like to do?

NS: Going to the beach… hanging with my friends…. anything where I can get outside.  I’m pretty much inside training all the time so any free time I have I try to get out of the house.

TK: Any advice you want to give to new MMA fighters?

NS: Don’t be in such a hurry to fight. Take your time and train as much as you can.

3169537737 7654a07510 o Interview with OC Fighter: Thomas Kenney
Stretching before the fight

NS: Any final word to your fans?

TK: I’d like to thank them for their support. I’d like to thank a few people who have been there for me since day one. First I’d like to thank my instructor, John De La O, who helped me turn a hobby of mine into a career. I don’t know where I’d be without his guidance through the past 10 years.

To my parents, brother and sister who have supported me and encouraged me. Thank you for everything.

To my sponsors: vitaminwater, Sullen Clothing, DSO Eyewear, Topping Events, The White House Of Laguna, without these guys helping me out I wouldn’t be able to fight so I can’t thank you enough for believing in me.

And last but certainly not least, thanks to to all of my training partners at De La O Jiu-Jitu, Bravado Muay Thai, and DWB Boxing. Everyone at these schools continue to help me prepare for my fights and every time I go out to fight, its not just myself out there fighting….. its a team effort.

So don’t forget April 19Th, Long Beach Fight Night. Its on a Sunday doors open at 3p, fights start at 5p. I’ll have tickets for sale so if anyone needs any tickets let me know.

Thanks again for the interview. I’ll see everybody on the 19th.

End of Interview – We want to thank Thomas Kenney for the interview and wish him the best for his next fight at Long Beach Fight Night.

pixel Interview with OC Fighter: Thomas Kenney

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