Few fighters have had the kind of week that bantamweight Casey Kenney had during the final week of March this year.
Following a first round TKO of Vince Cachero at LFA 62 on March 22, Kenney was asked to turn around eight days later for his UFC debut against Ray Borg at UFC on ESPN 2, where he took a unanimous decision victory.
“It was the ride of a lifetime, that’s for sure,” Kenney told MMAWeekly.com. “From one highlight reel knockout in the LFA and then stepping up five days later stepping up to fight Ray Borg, I passed all the tests.
“The main thing was all the tests of showing up, making weight twice, all the little things, getting medical things done in time, doing interviews, it was a great moment but also a big relief too, finally stepping into the Octagon where I felt like I’d belong for a little while.”
Following a few days to let everything sink in, Kenney was back in the gym working on what he felt he did wrong in his bout with Borg.
“It was a little fight after the UFC fight things finally calmed down and got back to reality a little bit,” said Kenney. “I was like ‘that was a crazy run’, but it was everything I could have asked for.
“(Borg) kind of forced the grappling on me a little bit more, picking up a couple slams and stuff like that, I felt like I needed to win the grappling back as well. My plan was to strike a little bit more and make it a little bit more exciting. I got my licks in when I could but I felt like he kind of forced me into the grappling; something I wasn’t really planning on doing.”
On Saturday in Anaheim, Calif., Kenney (12-1-1) will look to pick up his second UFC win in a row when he takes on Manny Bermudez (14-0) in a preliminary 140-pound catchweight bout.
“It’s a 14-0 guy (in Bermudez) on one of the biggest UFC cards of the year – I couldn’t ask for anything more,” Kenney said. “I think I have to go out and be myself and put Manny away.
“It doesn’t really matter what round it is, but I think my game is way too well-rounded for him. He’s a good submission guy, his striking is okay and the rest of his game is just okay, so I think I’m going to exploit some holes. If it goes into deep waters, we’ll deal with that, but I feel I’ll put him away one way or another.”
Now that he’s made it to the UFC, Kenney is looking to close out his 2019 on a winning streak in the promotion to build off of for next year.
“I was kind of pushing for this card and got on this card, so (the UFC has) a plan, but you can also kind of set your own map,” said Kenney. “I’d really like to fight once more before the end of the year, maybe in November or December, and definitely kick off 2020 with a bang being 3-0 in the UFC.”