Casey Kenney’s growing list of victories almost had the bantamweight GOAT added to it.
Back in March, Kenney was matched up with two-time UFC champion Dominick Cruz at UFC 259 in a high-profile bout that headlined the ESPN preliminaries. After three rounds of action, Cruz earned a split nod, preventing Kenney from becoming just the fourth man to ever defeat “The Dominator.”
Kenney entered that bout on a three-fight win streak and with a 5-1 UFC record. A win over Cruz would have possibly vaulted him into a top 10 spot in the rankings, but instead he finds himself matched up with another hungry young bantamweight, Song Yadong, this Saturday at UFC 265.
Ahead of that fight, Kenney appeared on What the Heck and gave his assessment of how he felt his fight with Cruz went.
“No matter what happens in there, there’s always some positive stuff that you can take from it,” Kenney said. “I lost the fight on the judges’ scorecards but there was a lot of good things that happened in there. I got to bust up one of the greatest of all-time and I got to share the octagon with him, so always improving, always trying to get better, take the good things and kind of bounce back.”
Though the bout ended in a split call, it was met with little controversy at the time. On MMA Decisions, 23 of the 24 media scores tallied for the bout were either 30-27 or 29-28 in Cruz’s favor, while the fan vote currently sits at 90 percent combined for those scores.
Kenney feels he clearly beat Cruz in Round 2 and did enough to edge out the first as well.
“I thought I got two rounds,” Kenney said. “Obviously, I’m a biased person, but I thought Round 3 was obviously him, the only round he got a takedown. Round 2, I busted him up pretty good and I stuffed all his takedowns, so I felt like I had that one. So now you got Round 1 and besides slipping a couple of times, he only hit me a couple of times in that round and I also stuffed all his takedowns.
“So not to dwell on it too much, but yeah, I thought I got two rounds there.”
Asked if he felt there was any moral victory to be taken from going the distance with Cruz and also winning the fight on one of the judges’ scorecards, Kenney admitted that he wished he’d done more regardless of the official outcome.
“When the judges decision came, I wasn’t super thrilled with my performance,” Kenney said. “I thought I could have done more, I could have done better. So whether I lost or won in that aspect, I fought my ass off but I felt like I could have done better in the fight.
“I wanted to put Dominick Cruz away and I felt like I could have done that and just didn’t really get the chance to do it in the fight. So no matter what the judges decided on on that fight, I knew I needed to get back to work and improve. But that’s the game, and win or lose in that Dominick Cruz fight, I’m coming to take your head off in the next one.”