Tony Kelley doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong.
The UFC bantamweight caused a stir on social media Saturday due to comments made while cornering Andrea Lee at UFC Vegas 54. Kelley stated that Lee’s opponent VivianeAraujo was “that’s what they are gonna do” between rounds. They are dirty f ******* Brazilians. They will f***ing cheat just like that .”
His words immediately drew criticism from fighters including Brazilian stars Cris Cyborg and Gilbert Burns, and his upcoming opponent on June 18, Adrian Yanez. UFC Welterweight Belal Muhammad called Kelley “racist .”
Aware of the controversy, Kelley released a statement on Twitter later in the evening, denying any “racist connotations” and claiming to be a victim of “cancel culture.”
According to Kelley it was an eye poke that he was calling “dirty.” However, he doesn’t explain why he singled out Brazilians in his comment.
Cancel Culture is real. It was true and I spoke in the heat and it had no racist connotations. But if you interpret that as your meaning, then idgaf. So many people quick to say racist..that shits getting so old. My reference was to a dirty eye poke.
— Tony Kelley (@TonyKelleyMMA) May 15, 2022
“Cancel Culture is real,” Kelley wrote. “What I said was true and during the battle and did not have any racist connotations…but [I don’t give a f***]. Many people are quick to call me racist..that ***’s becoming so outdated. My reference was to a dirty eye poke.”
Araujo went on to defeat Lee by unanimous decision.