Casey Kenney made his UFC debut on just five days notice and defeated a former world title challenger at UFC on ESPN 2 in March. Now, with a full fight camp behind him, he faces a different test in the unbeaten Manny Bermudez at UFC 241.
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The bantamweight bout between two of the division’s brightest prospects will take place during the ESPN prelims at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. The UFC 241 main card will stream live on ESPN+.
After capturing his second divisional title for LFA in March, Kenney got the short notice call to fight Ray Borg on less than a week’s notice in Philadelphia, a chance he jumped on with both feet. The 28-year-old picked up a unanimous decision win to extend his winning streak to five fights.
Following the win over Borg— Kenney’s third fight in four months — the former two-division LFA champion is excited to get back in there and keep the train moving against a dangerous fighter with an unblemished record.
“After the Borg fight, they kind of told me August would be when I came back, which was a perfect timeframe for me,” Kenney explained to The Body Lock.
“I fought a couple of times there, a couple of months off wouldn’t hurt anybody. August was great, UFC 241, August 17, I kept asking to get on that card and it didn’t matter who they offered me, I was going to accept it. It just happened to be Manny Bermudez, who’s 14-0, and that’s an even better task because I love taking people’s zeros.”
Bermudez has not logged a lot of Octagon time in his three victories — 11 minutes and 1 second to be exact. “The Bermudez Triangle” picked up submission wins over Albert Morales, Davey Grant and, most recently, Benito Lopez at UFC on ESPN 1 in February.
Kenney has been paying attention to Bermudez’s ascension in the organization and, admittedly, has been impressed. However, Kenney feels that in the overall scheme of the mixed martial arts world, he holds the better cards in his hand.
“I’m impressed with his submission skills,” Kenney said. “I think as an overall mixed martial artist, I think, for this fight, he’s in over his head.”
“I think that he’s not a bad little boxer, he’s not a bad mixed martial artist, a very good submission guy, but we’re at the highest level in the sport. We’re not only at the highest level, but it’s a time where the fighters are some of the most well-rounded fighters to ever walk the earth. I feel like I’m one of those and that’s basically what I’m looking to do August 17. I’m going to find those holes, it doesn’t matter where it’s at, and then put him away.”
The only loss in Kenney’s career came during his second appearance on Dana White’s Contender Series in August 2017. A month prior, Kenney defeated Cee Jay Hamilton via unanimous decision on the Contender Series and was invited back after not securing a contract, losing a very close split decision to Adam Antolin, in a fight that many thought Kenney won. Kenney carried those experiences as an extra chip on his shoulder as he continued on his quest to get to the UFC.
Now that he’s there, Kenney has no plans on slowing down any time soon, continuing with Saturday night at UFC 241.
“I feel like I’m gonna run him right over,” Kenney stated. “I feel like I’m gonna take him into deep waters and I’m gonna drown him — that’s if it happens to go that way. I feel like his gas tank is not going to be there, not the way mine is. I’ve proved my gas tank a couple of times now and it’s been a little while since he’s seen a second round.
“He didn’t look so hot when he did see a second round in his debut so we’ll see how the deep waters treat him. Like I said, I feel like I’m just a more complete mixed martial artist. I feel like my striking is leaps and bounds above his and he’ll probably be like Borg — about 30 seconds in he got real uncomfortable, just rushed in and tried to grab me. I kind of see the same thing happening with Manny. He may try to stand there for a second but once you feel the speed, feel the power, feel the accuracy, you’re gonna start diving at legs.”
“I’m gonna put him away some how, some way,” Kenney continued. “Whether its the first or the second, the last five seconds of the fight, I’m gonna break this dude. I’m gonna run him over at some point and I’m gonna drown him.”
The UFC bantamweight has seen a flurry of new, up and coming talent emerging to make it one of the deeper divisions in the sport. In addition, the division has also gotten a boost with the addition of veterans, Hall of Famers and former world champions and title challengers.
Kenney is not looking past Saturday night, or Manny Bermudez. But if all goes according to plan at UFC 241, Kenney has his sites set on taking on one of those veterans — a man who came out of retirement and picked up the fastest knockout of his legendary carer
“I’m looking for a long career here in the UFC and I’m in no rush to get to the top. But if that ride is going that way, I’m gonna catch on,” Kenney said. “I believe… why not? Why not a top-15? Urijah Faber just got back in the mix, why not him? If he wants a title shot, I think he needs to knock off a couple more contenders. I’ll sign up for that one, as well, totally out of respect. I love Urijah Faber but it would be a dream fight for me.
“It was cool watching him beat Ricky Simon and watching that happen because now I’m in the same league as Urijah Faber, now. That could really happen.”