On the Rise: UFC 241 Edition

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Kenney scored a unanimous decision win over CJ Hamilton in the opening bout of Week 2 during the first season of the Contender Series. While it didn’t earn him a contract, it was enough to get him a call back later in the season, but when he returned to Las Vegas, he landed on wrong side of a split decision verdict against Adam Antolin.

The decision was a tough two-piece to deal with as it not only dashed his UFC dreams momentarily, but it also knocked him from the ranks of the unbeaten. But the way Kenney responded should be the template everyone bounced from the Contender Series tries to follow, as he went 4-0 under the LFA banner, capturing interim belts in the bantamweight and flyweight divisions and secured a call-up to replace Kyler Phillips (who was replacing Liu Pingyuan) opposite Ray Borg just eight days after winning his second title.

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And then he walked into the Octagon and outworked the former flyweight title challenger in his debut, pushing his winning streak to five in the process.

This week, Kenney is paired off with undefeated prospect Manny Bermudez in a really interesting clash between two very different grapplers. While Bermudez is a jiu-jitsu specialist and has finished all but three of his 14 career wins by submission, Kenney is a judo player who focuses more on control.

The 28-year-old is on a terrific run right now and his confidence has got to be through the roof. If he can march into the cage on Saturday and halt Bermudez’ lengthy run of success, he will instantly establish himself as a legitimate player in the bantamweight ranks and one of the better success stories to emerge from the Contender Series thus far.

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