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Manny Bermudez challenges Casey Kenney to make it out of the first round at UFC 241

Manny Bermudez challenges Casey Kenney to make it out of the first round at UFC 241

Manny Bermudez celebrates after picking up a UFC victory

Manny Bermudez has won his last 20 fights: 14 of those as a professional, 13 of those professional wins by finish, three of those in the UFC Octagon.

As impressive as those numbers are, Bermudez has a fellow bantamweight prospect that will attempt to block his path towards the top #15 in Casey Kenney.

The 135-pound showdown will take place at UFC 241 this Saturday night. The event will take place at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. and the battle of the bright prospects will take place during the ESPN prelims. The UFC 241 main card will air on ESPN+.

“The Bermuda Triangle” will share the card with Kenney, and a number of fascinating bouts including the main event for the UFC heavyweight title between Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic. Add the return of Nate Diaz taking on Anthony Pettis, and Yoel Romero facing Paulo Costa, Bermudez agrees this may be the best card of the year for the UFC. That means a lot of eyeballs will be tuning in on Saturday night, even before the pay-per-view main card.

“It’s a crazy card to be on,” Bermudez told The Body Lock. “I know we’re on the prelims but just being around all of those people like Yoel (Romero), “DC”, Nate Diaz fighting Anthony Pettis, it’s a crazy card.

“It’s definitely good for [me and Casey to be on this card] because we get to show what each of us is made of. You got two up-and-coming guys that are ready to put everything down in order to get to that next step. I think him and I are going to put down a good, solid undercard fight if you guys are tuning in to that one.”

After defeating Benito Lopez via first-round submission at February’s UFC on ESPN 1 event, Bermudez was hoping for a step up in competition, even calling for a fight with the returning Urijah Faber — more on that in a moment.

When Kenney was presented to him, Bermudez was obviously going to say yes to it. After the pen went to paper, Bermudez had to start doing his research since he wasn’t familiar with his opponent on Saturday night.

“I, honestly, had never really heard of him,” Bermudez said. “I pay attention to the bantamweight division and Kenney was a flyweight. I just assumed he’d go back down at some point and I don’t really picture the 125ers staying up there.

“I really wasn’t looking at him but those guys are so fast, so mobile and all of that stuff. Getting the name on the contract, that was honestly the first time I saw it, but looking at his record — LFA champ, beating Ray Borg in his first fight in the UFC, 12-1 — he’s very impressive.”

Kenney has been on a tear since losing a split decision on Dana White’s Contender Series in July 2017. The 28-year-old has won five fights in a row, including capturing the LFA bantamweight and flyweight titles, and his short-notice UFC debut win over Ray Borg in March. Bermudez, a native of Abington, Mass., has a lot of respect for Kenney and feels that the clash of styles will create quite the barn burner.

“He’s very confident, he’s very scrappy and he’s very composed,” Bermudez explained. “But that’s a blessing and a curse. If it goes a little later, he’ll be able to keep that pace up, but if you have someone coming at you kind of crazy, changing the pace, it’s going to be kind of a wild fight.

“I feel like the way I fight is kind of reckless, anyways. The way he fights, he fights composed but he also has a bit of swinger in him. If you get in his face, he’ll bite down on that mouthpiece. I’m interested to see how this is gonna go. I’m ready for it all but I think it’s going to be a fun fight.”

In a recent interview with The Body Lock, Kenney shared the same respect for Bermudez and what he’s accomplished but ultimately feels that Bermudez isn’t as well-rounded as he is. Kenney also has called the gas tank of Bermudez into question and feels, essentially, if it gets out of the first round, Kenney will be able to “run over” and “drown” Bermudez en route to his sixth consecutive win.

Bermudez has a simple, yet playful answer to those statements.

“Well, get out of the first round then,” Bermudez stated. “We’ll see what happens after that.”

“I’m super excited for this fight, I think it’s going to be a great one. Even his comments about me, it’s fun going back and forth like that and once we finally get in there and throw it down, I have a good energy about this fight. I feel really good about it. Now that he’s talking s**t (laughing), it’s gotta be in the first round, very quickly in the first round. Maybe the fight doesn’t even start and I choke him out? In all seriousness, however, the win has to come, it’ll come.”

Once the word began to spread that Urijah Faber was coming back, Bermudez began a campaign on Twitter to make that fight happen. Faber is a legend, of course, and would be a great test for the 25-year-old. Bermudez revealed that the UFC got the wheels turning when it comes to a fight between him and Faber.

To make the road to UFC 241 even more fascinating when it comes to this fight, Kenney, also, has interest in fighting the UFC Hall of Famer. For Bermudez, that adds an extra element of fun to this fight.

“Don’t take Faber from me,” Bermudez said laughingly. “Now I have to put Casey out in the first round so I get Faber. No, but you never know. You can plan ahead all you want but the UFC probably has plans for Urijah, Urijah probably has plans for himself, the UFC will have a plan for me and all of that stuff. I keep asking for these guys, but I know how the business works.

“The reason that I wanted that fight is because the UFC came to me asking if I wanted to fight him,” Bermudez said. “It was such a big opportunity that I had to say yes, so I took it. They never sent me a contract or anything like that, and the next thing I saw, they picked Ricky Simon instead.”

Bermudez is certainly not looking past Kenney on Saturday night and feels like it would be unlikely he would get that fight with Faber anytime soon. He certainly isn’t going to beg for it. Of course, Bermudez would jump all over the chance should it present itself once again, but he is just as interested in seeing how the Urijah Faber comeback tour commences as the rest of us.

“Urijah looked good for where he’s at right now but I was like, ‘Damn, I wish that was me in there!’, I would’ve put up a better fight,” Bermudez said. “Props to him, though. He’s a legend, a tough, tough guy and to be there this long is super impressive. I’m super interested in his come back (continuing) and hopefully we can still fight each other.”

Ideally, if all goes well on Saturday night against Casey Kenney, Manny Bermudez would love the chance — regardless of opponent — to compete close to home at UFC Boston Oct. 18. If it happens, Bermudez would be thrilled. If it doesn’t, Bermudez will still be in the building taking it all in.

“Ideally, in a perfect world, that’s what I want,” Bermudez said about competing at the TD Garden in October. “I want to go in there, walk out perfectly fine and get a fight down in Boston. You can’t count on that, you can’t bank on that. You start looking past opponents, so I’m just going to do my thing and then, if it works out, it works out. If not, I’ll be at UFC Boston as fan.”

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