Middleweight Kevin Casey has always been up for any challenge he’s faced.
Having fought the likes of 100-fight veteran Ikuhisa Minowa in his first MMA bout to making his Strikeforce debut against former Olympic silver medalist Matt Lindland to his stint last year on The Ultimate Fighter, Casey has pushed himself to rise to the challenge.
And while he might not have come out victorious in every instance, Casey has learned from the past and has put himself back on track with two wins in a row and now feels like he’s coming into his own.
One of the reasons Casey has been able to put things together is his work with the famed Black House team. Being surrounded by so many top tier fighters has helped push him and his game to the next level.
“I feel my striking, footwork and my movement has gone to another level, and my jiu-jitsu is still strong and it’s getting better every week, so now I’m just in a smooth rhythm,” said Casey. “When it comes to cutting the weight, to the diet, everything now is pretty much precise – there’s no guessing – everything’s just firing on all cylinders and I’m ready.
“We have so many tough guys in there and so many examples of UFC-caliber competitors, so the pressure is always on you to be the best. Especially when you’re trying to establish the next generation of Black House warriors, we want to make sure we continue to meet that standard and set the bar high for the next guys.”
Casey’s (7-3) recent success hasn’t gone unnoticed, as he’s scheduled to face Andrew Sanchez (5-0) this Friday in Culver City, Calif., for the RFA middleweight championship.
“I look at this as any other fight,” said Casey. “I was in the frame of mind before where I would buy into the hype of fighting for a certain organization or fighting for something specific, and I used to put on too much pressure to go out and perform, whereas I’m just out there to have fun and showcase my hard work now.
“That’s what it’s about now – I’m not thinking about the outcome of the fight – I’m really focused on being present in the moment.”
When it comes to facing Sanchez, Casey told MMAWeekly.com that he has more than enough tools to handle his less-experienced opponent and take another step forward in his career.
“Sanchez is a wrestler and is a tough competitor who is trying to build up a lot of momentum for himself, but I don’t see him as a big finisher,” said Casey. “His striking hasn’t looked super sharp. His submission game hasn’t looked super sharp. A lot of the fighters that I’ve seen him face were not really on the level grappling-wise, so he was able to exploit them that way.
“I’m planning on being the superior fighter out there – whether it’s on the feet, in the clinch or on the ground – I plan on out-classing him.”