Following a disappointing 2017 where he lost two of three bouts, lightweight Kenny Cross took time away from fighting to retool his game and returned with three straight victories in 2018.
As Cross puts it, spending nearly a year off from fighting to work on his game was exactly the move he needed to make to get things back on track.
“I took a long time to level up my game,” Cross told MMAWeekly.com. “I moved to Michigan Top Team. I decided to move around and find the best fighters and best coaches so I could evolve my game before I stepped back into the cage.
“I took eight to 12 months to train and not fight, finally I felt ready and stepped back into the cage and had three fights I won last year, and now I’m feeling untouchable.”
Not only has Cross’ technical skills grown, but his maturation in how he approaches MMA has played a big part in having some of the most convincing performances of his career.
“Definitely just being in the gym every day, dedicating myself, staying focused and really just getting serious,” said Cross. “I moved here for a reason. I don’t want to ever lose again. It’s a feeling I’m not fond of.
“I’m my biggest critic, but I go out there and dominate every time. I haven’t been touched the last three fights. I finish every single one in the first round. I tell people that I’m going to do it and then I go out there and do it.”
On Saturday in Grand Rapids, Mich., Cross (6-2) will look to pick up his fourth straight win when he faces Korey Kuppe (6-3) in a 165-pound championship main event of Lights Out Championship 2.
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“What I need to do to win the fight is close distance, be fast, be sharp, and stick to the basics when it comes to grappling,” Cross said. “I have to make sure I’m not being lazy.
“Nothing (Kuppe) really has really worries me. I have a solid game plan, and I have a lot of guys behind me making sure that I go out there and perform the way I’m supposed to.”
When it comes to the remainder of 2019, Cross wants to stay active and build off the success he started last year and add more titles to his collection.
“I would like to have four or five fights,” said Cross. “I would like to take this belt at 165lbs and either go defend this belt at 165 pounds or go to 155 pounds and grab another belt right after this fight. I want to go around and start capturing titles.
“I’m just now starting to prove a point and show people who I am, so I want to keep the momentum going, and keep rolling through this year and make 2019 a big year for me.”