Coming off a first-round TKO of Robert Hale at Lights Out Championship 7 in February, it seemed as if lightweight Kenny Cross was well on his way to repeating the success he saw in 2019, where he won three straight bouts, and continuing his way up the ladder when the novel coronavirus struck and everything stopped.
The halt of events came after what Cross felt like was one of his strongest performances to date against a fighter in Hale who had a skillset he was eager to showcase against.
“I went up against a tough opponent for the regional scene, someone I needed to test myself against,” Cross told MMAWeekly.com. “I feel like the way that I worked, the gifts that I have, just fell into place and I got the win pretty swiftly.
“I put myself against a striker, someone I could test my striking against, it was the perfect match-up for me, and I went out and showed that I’m the better striker, and I got that win and continued my momentum.”
Initially after his win over Hale it seemed like things were going to proceed like normal when the pandemic forced the nation and MMA with it into lockdown.
“The first couple of weeks we hadn’t had the pandemic really breaking out yet, so I didn’t know what to expect,” said Cross. “I knew I was on some radars, and I was kind of hoping to hear more from Sean Shelby and get the call, and at least go to the Contender Series and see what’s up.
“I like to keep the momentum rolling, so I keep fighting one after another. I fought four or five times last year, two championship fights, so this little break is fine with me because I’m sitting pretty right now. It’s crazy, but I’m just relaxing, staying calm in the chaos.”
Since he’s not sure when he’ll be able to return to fighting, Cross is doing his best to stay active while social distancing, but admits it’s a far cry from how he would be training normally.
“It’s completely different for me,” Cross said. “I use my teammates and coaches and facility, and that’s what really intrigued me about fighting is learning and being in the gym, and everything that comes with it is why I become the best fighter I can.
“Right now I’m just running, rollerblading around, shadow boxing, and not doing a whole lot because there’s not a lot I can do. I’m trying to stay positive and keep my body (in shape).”
While other fighters might push as hard as they can to have as many fights as they can when they are allowed to, Cross wants to be more deliberate about his career post-lockdown.
“I’m still above all these regional fighters, but I’m nobody yet,” said Cross. “Everyone’s going after the same thing, so I’m sitting back, not rushing anything. I’m not going to be disappointed if I don’t get a call for a while.
“I’m like a freshman in high school, and I’m going to pay my dues, and I’m going to be ready for when they put me into the game.”