Tony Kelley Responds to Racism Accusations, Blames Cancel Culture

Tony Kelley UFC
Tony Kelley, UFC 269 ceremonial weigh-in Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

One of the low points of a generally entertaining UFC Vegas 54 card on Saturday came from Andrea “KGB” Lee’s corner.

Lee had a strong opening round against Brazil’s Viviane Araujo, landing a thunderous head kick that knocked Araujo to the canvass. By the end of the round, however, Araujo had recovered, and in the second, she took control of the fight. Relying on her grappling game, she made life a nightmare for Lee on the ground. Lee ultimately lost a decision.

Between rounds, Lee could be overheard saying she felt as if she was going to pass out. It was other comments, from coach and boyfriend Tony Kelley, that got people talking however. Following the first round, Lee complained about a thumb to the eye.

That’s what they’re going to do, they’re dirty f*cking Brazilians,” Kelley told her. “They’re going to f*cking cheat like that.”

Response to the comments was far from positive.

On Sunday, Kelley released a statement on social media in response to his comments while cornering Lee, blaming cancel culture for the outcry.

Cancel Culture is real. What I said was real and in the heat of battle, and in no way had any type of racist connotations meant… but if that’s the way you take it, idgaf [I don’t give a f*ck],” Kelley wrote. “So many people quick to say racist.. that sh*t’s getting so old. My reference was to a dirty eye poke.”

Lee’s ex-husband, Donny Aaron, also a former coach of the flyweight, came under fire years ago for having multiple Nazi-themed tatoos, including a swastika. The pair later split after a highly publicized domestic violence incident, which led to Aaron going on the run. After nine months on the lam, Aaron was finally apprehended in May of 2019.

Kelley, meanwhile, has a fight with Adrian Yanez coming up — and the UFC’s Brazilian contingent will no doubt be firmly in the corner of Yanez.