By his own admission, 2014 has not been the best of years for former UFC welterweight Cody McKenzie.
After starting off the year with a win in April over Mark Dobie, McKenzie’s luck went downhill from there, as the single-night Battlegrounds MMA tournament he had signed on to as a replacement for Dennis Hallman was postponed to a less advantageous date.
McKenzie ended up losing his first round bout to eventual tournament finalist Brock Larson.
“I was scheduled to do the tournament and then it got cancelled and rescheduled right until after my fishing season, so I went fishing and did the fight tournament and didn’t fare so well because I didn’t train at all,” McKenzie told MMAWeekly.com.
“It sucked for me because I did a whole training camp and then it got moved to the end of my commercial fishing season, which I do in the summer and have been doing forever. The timing couldn’t have been worse.”
McKenzie (15-5) will be looking to reverse his fortunes and get back in the win column as he heads to St. Petersburg, Russia, to face Beslan Isaev (30-7) at M-1 Challenge 54 on Dec. 17.
“He’s a big, strong guy who is athletic with a good record, so to get the win I’ve just got to put it on him,” said McKenzie of Isaev. “I’ve got to be patient and put it on him at the same time, if that makes sense.
“I can’t rush in on a big guy like this. I’m pretty sure he’s a good wrestler, so if that’s the case, I’m not going to be taking him down. So it’ll probably be a kickboxing fight. Even then I’ll be trying to create scrambles and out-technique him.”
Having grown up in Alaska and made the trip yearly between there and the mainland U.S., McKenzie knows how to handle long flights and make sure he gets acclimated quickly to his surroundings.
“I travelled overseas for fighting, like going to the Middle East before I was in the UFC, and so far I’ve performed fine,” he said. “Weather-wise Russia is a lot like Alaska, so I’m not too worried about it.
“To me it’s just about getting of the plane and jogging and getting the jetlag out and feeling good and ready for the fight.”
Having never been overly concerned with wins or losses, McKenzie’s biggest goal for his fight against Isaev is to have a strong performance to build off of heading into 2015.
“At the end of the day, it’s not always about winning or losing as much as I feel it should be how good the fight went,” said McKenzie. “I’ve had a lot of fights where I lost where I felt like I performed well and I felt good afterwards.
“I’m always in there to finish, and judging by his record, so is he, so it should be a fight.”