Following Contender Series win, Kenny Cross eyes XFC lightweight belt

November 11, 2020

Returning from a six-month layoff from MMA against Kevin Syler at Dana White’s Contender Series 2020 in August, lightweight Kenny Cross may not have been in the best health of his career, but he was able to overcome any limitations to pick up a unanimous decision victory.

Though he was unable to secure a UFC contract, Cross is happy with the fact he was able to pick up a victory and raise his current winning streak to five in a row.

“With my weight cuts and circumstances that went on, I’m just grateful that I got to defeat an undefeated fighter (in Syler); someone who’s well-known, someone who’s been on Contender Series twice,” Cross told

“I went in there at 70% and beat him every round. I’m happy I didn’t lose, but at the same time I got PTSD for how tired I was in that fight. I don’t want to ever be that tired again.”

In the following months Cross stepped up his training to ensure that the issues that plagued him in his bout with Syler don’t do so again.

“Since the last fight I picked up a strength and conditioning coach outside of Michigan Top Team, so I’m training 10 hours extra every week focusing on conditioning, my diet, my discipline and my mental training,” said Cross. “There’s a lot more work I’m putting into it now than previously.

“I’m just trying to be way more disciplined with my training and myself. My body’s at peak performance right now at 26, so I want to give these next 10 years everything I have because I always won’t be this specimen. I’m staying focused, training harder, trying to do more than I ever have and not take things lightly.”

On Wednesday in Atlanta, Cross (11-3) puts his winning streak on the line as he participates in the first round of the lightweight grand prix versus Jarel Askew (11-6) at XFC 43.

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“I think that if I just go out there and stay confident, stay strong, and be in the moment, there’s no one that can beat me,” Cross said. “I’m training for greatness. I want the (XFC lightweight) belt.

“(Askew) is just another body, another person I need to destroy. If I do what I’m supposed to do this should be a quick night’s worth of work, then we continue forward. I’m just being prepared and working really hard so I can show everybody who I am.”

As part of the lightweight grand prix, Cross’ future has a set road map as long as he continues to win. With a few different possible match-ups, Cross’ focus is on making sure he’s ready for whoever could be next in his path.

“There are potentially three opponents out in front of me,” said Cross. “I’m excited to watch them compete against each other and then take the winner.

“I don’t care who it is. As long as I’m training with the people I have around me, and am staying dedicated, focused, and disciplined that no one can really stop me. Whoever wants to step up I’m more than willing to accept the fight and do what I have to do.”