When Kenney (16-2-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC) upset Ray Borg in March 2019, Kenney recalls Cruz being critical of his wrestling, which he didn’t take too well.
So when he meets Cruz (22-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) at UFC 259, Kenney admits that he will likely carry those words with him into the March 6 bout.
“I remember him commentating my debut, and he had a couple of words that I didn’t care for, so I think that’ll be a little bit extra motivation for this fight,” Kenney told MMA Junkie Radio. “Listening to him commentate, hearing him talk, he’s a smart fighter. He’s an educated fighter, and I think that’s something that people underestimate with me. They see me come out, brawl, love to fight, happy, but my fight IQ is high, and that’s something Dominick has been known for, but I’d like to challenge that. I may even have a better fight IQ than him.
“Listening to him commentate, I see the way he sees things, but he has a very broad mind so nothing that I’m probably gonna take into the actual fight, but maybe a little motivation for my debut, talking a little (expletive) about my wrestling.”
He continued, “He mentioned a couple of things I was still green in, and I think I was just debuting in the UFC, but it’s like, man, I know exactly what I’m doing there. I got 13 pro fights. It was just a couple of quick comments about me being green against my cage wrestling, and I did get taken down in that fight so props to him, but just comments that’ll always stick with me.”
Kenney emerged as one of 2020’s breakout fighters after picking up three wins, two in the span of three weeks. He will draw his biggest test to date when he takes on former WEC and UFC bantamweight champion Cruz, an opportunity he’ll look to fully capitalize on.
“He’s a big fight,” Kenney said. “A lot of people consider him as the bantamweight GOAT, and his last fight was for the title, so I think I beat Dominick Cruz, I put him away in devastating fashion, I think that puts me right up there – top 10, top five competition.”