Following just his second career loss to Merab Dvalishvili at UFC on ESPN+ 25 this past February, bantamweight Casey Kenny was looking to rebound with a strong performance against Louis Smolka in his follow-up bout three months later at UFC Fight Night.
For Kenny, his fight versus Smolka went just about as well as he could have hoped, picking up a first-round submission just three minutes into the fight.
“I think it was honestly one of my best performances,” Kenney told MMAWeekly.com. “Even though it was short notice, I came out and did what I was supposed to do. I started off with a leg kick, landed my shot, rocked him and submitted him, so it was about as perfect as you can get.”
Coming into the bout with Smolka off the heels of the coronavirus lockdown, Kenney admits it was a bit of a different feel than he normally has going into fights, but he persevered as he feels he usually does.
“I think that’s one thing I do pretty well, no matter what happens I’m going to weather the storm and come out on top,” said Kenney. “It was definitely a different experience.
“There wasn’t really any camp. Even in the training beforehand it was just doing little groups, doing stuff on my own mainly. Then the fight, we were kind of locked down to the hotel, no fans, but it was all great experience. Part of this sport is being able to roll with the punches and make adjustments.”
On Saturday on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi, Kenney (14-2-1) will look to pick up his second straight win when he faces Heili Alateng (14-7-1) in a UFC on ESPN 16: Holm vs. Aldana preliminary bantamweight bout.
“He’s a tough guy who is going to come forward, throw a big right hand, going to wrestle hard, but I think he’s pretty basic in his approach,” Kenney said of Alateng. “I think I just have too many weapons for him.
“I’ll pick my shots, be creative when I need to, be strong with my basics when I need to, and wherever the fight goes I think I can beat him. I think I’m just overall too well-rounded on the feet and on the ground.”
Should he come out healthy versus Alateng, Kenney is looking to get back into the Octagon right away, even while still on Fight Island if possible.
“I want to get rich back in there,” said Kenney. “I’m going to try to petition to stay on Fight Island and get another in as quick as possible if everything goes well.
“This will be my fifth UFC fight, and I’ve been pretty unscathed in my all four. I’m grateful for all the fights that I’m getting, but I’d like to make one more before the end of the year to cap off the year.”
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