It was a back-and-forth battle throughout but Cruz was able to out work Casey Kenney for the better part of three rounds to ultimately win a split decision. The judges scored the fight 30-27 and 29-28 for Cruz with the third official giving Kenney the nod with a 29-28 scorecard.
“A little closer than I wanted but got the job done,” Cruz said following the victory. “I kind of expected I could out pace him but he kept up.”
Always fast on his feet, Cruz was chopping away at Kenney with kicks including some thudding shots to the legs and then going back up top to the head. Cruz’s elusiveness was giving Kenney headaches as he always seemed to be just behind the former bantamweight champion in the exchanges.
Just before the close of the opening round, Kenney began firing back with some leg kicks of his own while attempting to slow down Cruz from moving around the octagon so much.
Kenney continued with that game plan while trying to stop the constant movement but Cruz began finding a home for his right hand while avoiding the big, looping punches from his opponent. Still, Kenney was more or less willing to trade shot for shot including a stiff left hand as the second round was coming to an end that definitely got Cruz’s attention.
With a close fight through two rounds, Cruz mixed in a pair of takedowns while Kenney was swinging for the fences, trying to do more damage on the feet. While it was a remarkably close fight, Cruz’s ability to consistently connect with the better overall shots allowed him to inch ahead on the scorecards.
Injuries have plagued Cruz for so much of his career but he still managed to beat a top up and comer in Kenney on Saturday night while proving there’s still plenty of fight left in him.
Rather than call out another bantamweight, however, Cruz decided to take time in his post fight interview to ask for a fight against an executive from Monster Energy Drinks.
“I would love to get a charity fight lined up,” Cruz said. “There’s a guy named Hans Molenkamp, who’s been holding a lot of fighters hostage and saying he’s an awesome pro fighter and he can take out everybody. I would love Monster to pick a charity of their choice and me and Hans go at it.”