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Cody McKenzie ends two-month retirement: 'I lived off my funds as long as I could'

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Cody McKenzie's retirement was shorter than most fighters' time in between bouts.

The idiosyncratic UFC veteran has accepted a fight on short notice and will meet Andrew McInnes in the co-main event of World Series Of Fighting 18: Moraes vs. Hill on Feb. 12 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, it was announced this week. McKenzie announced his retirement after a first-round knockout loss to Beslan Isaev at M-1 Challenge 54 on Dec. 17.

"It was a pretty quick retirement," McKenzie told MMAFighting.com with a laugh. "I lived off my funds as long as I could and when they ran out, sometimes you gotta come out of retirement. Even if it's [two] months later."

McKenzie, an Ultimate Fighter alum, planned on returning to the regular workforce when he left MMA in December. He's still doing that. McKenzie is a commercial fisher in Alaska and is currently taking on odd jobs, like roofing and welding. He figured why not fight also for extra cash?

"I'm just doing it as a hobby now," McKenzie said of MMA. "I'm not looking at this as a job anymore, because it's not a job really. I guess it is. I get some money or whatever. But yeah, I never got into this for the money. I think that's where I got burnt out for awhile, trying to chase the money when it's not there."

After the bout with McInnes, a one-off with WSOF, McKenzie will get right back into the cage in April for Havoc MMA in Canada. He's happy he'll at least have two months to prepare for that one, rather than just a week or two.

"I just got the itch again," McKenzie said. "It's always there. I like fighting people and people kept calling me asking me to fight. I turned some down. Now I'm just at the point where I need money. Might as well take some fights."

One of the things McKenzie said when he wanted to step away was that he feared brain trauma. He was knocked out cold in his last fight. But that isn't a worry anymore, he said. McKenzie said he overreacted.

"I've been knocked out a lot more growing up just being crazy, like skateboarding, snowboarding, sh*t like that," he said. "I used to knock myself out a lot. So it's not like I'm gonna take any more knockouts fighting. I think I have pretty good head movement. I've had my concussions everywhere. Fighting isn't that much more dangerous than life. Whatever I'm doing, I'm doing something with a risk of getting hurt."

McKenzie (15-6) went a respectable 3-4 in the UFC. He was released following a unanimous decision loss to Sam Stout in December 2013. In that fight, McKenzie competed in white Nike basketball shorts with the tag still on them. Referee Herb Dean had to pull the tag off during the bout.

Since being cut, the Washington state resident has not had many nice things to say about the UFC and president Dana White. McKenzie told MMAFighting.com in January that he wanted to fight White in an MMA bout for free.

His stance on the UFC and its brass has not changed after his short retirement.

"I'm not gonna beat around the bush," McKenzie said. "I don't care what people think about me. I don't care about money even. I'm not gonna kiss Dana White and the UFC's ass. They're a bunch of assholes and they treat their fighters like sh*t, I feel."

The bout with McInnes will be at welterweight. McKenzie fought at featherweight in the UFC. He said he doesn't know much about McInnes except he heard "he's kind of an a**hole."

Not that it matters. McKenzie will do his thing, collect his paycheck and then head back to his regular life. Until the next fight comes up, likely sooner than expected.

"I'm not afraid of work by no means," McKenzie said. "I like working hard. I get by, I always have. I've always made better money in Alaska [fishing] than I did in the UFC. Every year, I made a bigger paycheck fishing than I did fighting. It just sucks, because I do like to spend my money. I do like to go out, I do like to have fun and I'm always on the road traveling. It's just a joke how I can make more in three months commercial fishing than I can in two years fighting people."