The Prelim Breakout Star is a once per event article that helps fans get to know those who will be entertaining them from the undercard. The intention of the article is not to bring attention to the most talented fighter on the preliminary card, but rather one that the common fan may have overlooked or underestimated.
UFC Rio Rancho is a perfect example of the UFC playing to a local crowd. The card is filled with fighters from the New Mexico and Arizona areas with some big names topping the list. While our pick isn’t the biggest name from those areas (nor is he really originally from that area), he may just be one of the biggest talents from it.
Affiliation – Rise Combat Sports
From – Tuscan, Arizona
Height – 5’7″
Weight – 135 lbs (Bantamweight)
Record – 13-1 (2-0 UFC)
What makes him impressive
You might be alarmed by a fighter who has averaged giving up a takedown in every three minutes of UFC cage time – a total of 10 in his two bouts. However, that’s really where the interesting part of his game gets started. Kenney is nearly impossible to hold down and even more impossible to get any real offense going against. In his debut against the ever-tough Ray Borg, the veteran was able to get him down seven times in just 15 mintues, but landed a grand total of 17 strikes in the entire fight. Furthermore, Kenney won that fight by decision thanks to his scrambling and his ability to get takedowns of his own. It was more of the same in his sophomore effort against Manny Bermudez. Despite being the smaller fighter, Kenney led the ground action with sweep attempts, sub attempts and, again, more strikes – leading him to another unanimous decision win.
Why he has been overlooked
Back-to-back wins in the UFC always is a great way to start, especially against two guys who are as tough as Borg and Bermudez. However, both coming at the hands of grappling heavy decisions is not exactly the best way to grab the attention of the fans. Unfortunately for him, this next bout does not appear it will be all that different. Still, if he keeps winning at this rate, the rankings will make it such that he cannot be ignored.
What makes this a good match-up
As mentioned, Kenney’s ability to meet the grappling of his opponents with sweeps, submission attempts, and scrambling makes it so that it’s damn near impossible for them to mount the offense they want to. Merab Dvalishvili’s offense is 100% predicated on the fact that he feels like he can get almost anybody down and work away on top. However, both of his last two opponents (Terrion Ware and Brad Katona) were able to get back to their feet multiple times against him, and neither of them are remotely as good of grapplers as Kenney is. Given that, I like Kenney here to stifle the wrestling of Dvalishvili and force him to defend himself enough to lose out on offense.
Prelim Breakout Star Record: 191-82-1 (2 NC) (7 DNF)
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