Casey Kenney has yet to turn the corner to full-blown contention in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s bantamweight division, but he carries the look of someone who plans to do so in the not-too-distant future.
Kenney will confront Yadong Song in an intriguing three-round bantamweight showcase at UFC 265 this Saturday at the Toyota Center in Houston. The 30-year-old Rise Combat Sports product has piled up nine victories across his past 11 appearances—a run that includes UFC wins over Ray Borg, Manny Bermudez, Louis Smolka, Heili Alateng and Nathaniel Wood. However, Kenney finds himself on the rebound following a split decision defeat to former champion Dominick Cruz at UFC 259 in March that saw him concede two takedowns to “The Dominator” and get outlanded by an 89-74 margin.
As Kenney zeroes in on the considerable challenges Song presents, here are five things you might not know about him:
1. Small-town roots gave him a foundation.
Kenney was born on March 20, 1991 in Portland, Indiana—a city of some 6,000 people on the eastern side of The Hoosier State. He excelled in wrestling at Jay High School, where he was a state finalist as a junior, and later wrestled collegiately at the University of Indianapolis. Kenney went 21-12 for the Greyhounds as a redshirt freshman in 2009-10 before leaving school to pursue a career in mixed martial arts.
2. His background made for a smooth transition to MMA.
The 5-foot-7, 135-pound Indiana native holds the rank of black belt in judo—he was a nine-time national champion in the discipline—and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He has put those world-class grappling skills to use in MMA, delivering five of his 16 career victories by submission. His methods of choice: two rear-naked chokes, one armbar, one brabo choke and one guillotine choke.
3. He shined on the regional scene.
Kenney was one of eight men to capture the Tachi Palace Fights flyweight title. Ulysses Gomez, Darrell Montague, Ian McCall, Hector Sandoval, Willie Gates, Alex Perez and Adam Antolin were the others. Kenney also laid claim to interim championships in the Legacy Fighting Alliance flyweight and bantamweight divisions.
4. No one has managed to break him.
The former Tachi Palace Fights champion has never been finished in 20 fights as a professional, with all three of his losses resulting in decisions to Cruz, Antolin and Merab Dvalishvili. The only other blemish on Kenney’s resume was a three-round draw with Bruno Silva at LFA 11 on May 5, 2017.
5. Consistency and durability have become hallmarks.
Kenney has fought at least once every calendar year since 2014 and made multiple appearances in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. His showdown with Song will mark his second outing of 2021. Kenney has never suffered back-to-back defeats.