Casey Kenney knew Manny Bermudez would be bigger than him when they met at UFC 241, but he didn’t know to what extent.
Kenney was originally scheduled to fight Bermudez in a bantamweight contest, but it was changed to a 140-pound catchweight bout the night before weigh-ins. Kenney said he got a call from his manager Jason House around midnight asking if Kenney would be willing to give his opponent an extra five pounds.
“He was so far over — he was 143 pounds and dead to the world the night before — that they only allowed him to go to 140, the nutritionists at the [UFC Performance Institute],” Kenney told Bloody Elbow. “Normally, guys don’t get cut off, they just miss weight by a couple pounds; they try to actually make the weight. He was so far off that they cut him off to even try to make the weight.”
Despite the change in weight, the fight went on as planned. Kenney picked up a unanimous decision win on the Aug. 17 card in Anaheim, handing Bermudez the first loss of his pro career. It was Kenney’s second UFC fight and victory.
Kenney entered the Octagon weighing 145 pounds, per the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC), which oversaw the event. Bermudez, however, was 164.8 pounds, a 25-pound — and 17.7 percent — weight gain from the day before. The UFC is moving Bermudez up to featherweight for his next fight, according to ESPN. Bermudez might have been heavier than even Kenney anticipated, but he wasn’t frustrated by or worried about the situation. He just wanted to fight.
“10, 20, 30 pounds, I don’t really give a sh-t,” Kenney said. “You’re gonna be bigger than me, let’s just fight. It’s not going to change anything right now. That was my main goal; let’s make this fight happen. … I wanted him to suffer a little bit for the weight class, but not enough to where he wasn’t going to fight.”
Kenney said he got a percentage of Bermudez’s fight purse just as if Bermudez officially missed weight. He did not comment further on how much he received.
“Let’s say that I got paid, and it’s more than the normal amount,” Kenney said. “I got paid for him missing weight for sure.”
In the fight, Kenney said he could feel that Bermudez had a significant size advantage.
“It felt like I held good in my grappling and scrambles and all that, but the times that he did kind of get those body locks, I was thinking, ‘Damn, this guy is big,’” Kenney said. “Normally, I can defend that. Manny was a different story. I could definitely feel the weight.”
There is no way to rid the sport of weight cutting entirely, Kenney said. Nor is that really necessary. The problem, he said, are the fighters that cut ridiculous amounts of weight.
“Weight cutting has been part the game forever, and it probably will be until the sport dies, if you know what I mean,” Kenney said. “It’s hard to take weight cutting out completely. I’ve been cutting weight for a long time. Basically, guys need to figure out where they’re going in the weight class. The way [Bermudez] is doing it is super old school, showing up 25 pounds overweight and trying to suck that much water outside of your body. I’m not saying he doesn’t know how to cut weight, but I could definitely do better for him.”