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.
Prelim Breakout Star steps a tad out of our comfort zone this week with a pick a lot of people might already know about. However, while he’s a borderline household name with avid fans, he is still not as big as I believe he should be.
Affiliation – MMA Lab
From – Portland, Indiana
Height – 5’7″
Weight – 135 lbs (Bantamweight)
Record – 14-2 (3-1 UFC)
What makes him impressive
Kenney has been properly branded a grappler by fans and analysts alike for his takedown heavy style and tough top game. However, somewhat lost in that shuffle is how much his striking has developed. Whether he’s using it to transition to the grappling or to score points on the feet on his own, Kenney has shown not just the ability to hang on the feet with tough opponents, but win there as well. If this continues to develop, along with his ability to stay out of the grappling exchanges he looks to avoid, he should be giving top 15 guys trouble immediately.
Why he has been overlooked
The loss to Merab Dvalishvili took a lot of the wind out of Kenney’s sails. After beating Ray Borg and Manny Bermudez, he cracked the top 15 and was looking like he’d give a lot of the division trouble. I think the expectations paired with the optics of that fight really put people down on Kenney – and maybe without merit. He has, after all, fought three incredible opponents to start his UFC stint. He also was able to finish a tough scrambler in his own right, Louis Smolka, with a very nice one-arm guillotine.
What makes this a good match-up
Heili Alateng is a guy who falls back on his own grappling. In his two UFC victories, he’s landed seven takedowns. However, it is worth mentioning that he has shot 20 of them. As a result, he’s likely to be in the type of scrambles that Kenney excels in. In addition, I think the improved striking of Kenney likely forces Alateng to shoot even more desperately, leaving him open to a guillotine or a back take transition.
Prelim Breakout Star Record: 204-90-1 (2 NC) (10 DNF)
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