On July 8 in Costa Mesa, Calif., Kenny “Duce” Garner will get an opportunity at M-1 Challenge 26 to make amends for what he feels is the biggest misstep in his MMA career.
“I messed up,” he told MMAWeekly.com. “Everybody’s messed up (at one time or another). Mohammed Ali, Mike Tyson, Fedor (Emelianenko) have all messed up. All those fighters I named, they came back bigger, better, and stronger.
“Ever since I had that little mishap in Russia (against Guram Gugenishvili), I’ve never stopped training.”
Stepping things up with Samson Strength and Conditioning and American Top Team in Port St. Lucie, Fla., Garner feels he’s made leaps and bounds with his game.
“My head movement has gotten faster, I’m stronger, and I keep pushing,” he said. “I don’t know if there’s a heavyweight that trains as hard as I do.
“That’s why the anticipation level for the fight is so high; they can’t even keep up with me. I still haven’t been able to show what I really can do because the fights be over too fast.”
Garner steps in for an injured Gugenishvili to face a fighter he defeated last year, Pat Bennett, in a rematch Garner feels M-1 has been shooting for.
“I figured that they didn’t believe it (the first time),” said Garner. “They must have thought it was a fluke with how fast I beat him. I guess they want me to do it again.”
With the improvements he’s made since their last meeting, Garner feels he’ll come out victorious again, only this time in even more spectacular fashion.
“I’ve picked up five, six pounds of muscle, so I hit harder, and I’m faster. So I figure it’s not going to take as many punches as it did last time to knock him out,” said Garner. “Maybe one or two (punches this time).
“Everybody says he’s a good wrestler, but the thing is, you may have been a good wrestler in high school and college, but those days are gone. Once you get punched in the face, wrestling goes right out the window.”
A second win over Bennett would put Garner back in the hunt for Gugenishvili’s title, which is right where he wants to be.
“I want to go straight to the top,” he said. “I want to fight the best and let them know that I’m one of the best, or the best. I think by the end of the year, everybody is going to know that ‘Duce’ is a force to be reckoned with.
“I’m not letting anybody past the first round, nobody. If they do make it past the first round, they can put it on their resume, and they might be able to get a job (because of it).”
With a personality that’s hard to dislike, and a skill set that continues to develop along the lines of a top heavyweight, it may not be long before Garner becomes the name fighter he feels he can become.
“First off I want to give big ups to M-1 Global and Showtime for giving me this opportunity to beat somebody’s brains out again,” he concluded. “That’s what the fans like to see and that’s what I’m going to do; I’m going to give them the best show they ever saw.
“Everybody come on out to California or watch it on Showtime and see me beat somebody’s brains out, and then get with me on my Facebook fan page.”