Dominick Cruz shows he is still a contender with win over Casey Kenney

Dominick Cruz has proved he still has a lot left in the tank with a win over Casey Kenney via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27), at UFC 259 on Saturday, March 6, 2021, live from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, NV.

At 35 years old, Cruz will have to stay active if he wants to make another run at the UFC title. MMA fans are still picking Cruz with confidence. Multiple public sportsbooks in the likes of SugarHouse promo code sets to create these projections, and the preponderance of the picks, by a fairly wide margin, are backing the former champion.

“It was a lot closer than I wanted but I got the job done… What I plan to do is stay focused on the task at hand and then make the plans afterward,” said Cruz, who then called for a charity fight against Monster’s Hans Molenkamp.

Cruz instantly went for a takedown but Kenney was able to sprawl and defend it. Kenney landed a strong spinning kick to the body but Cruz responded with a head kick. The majority of the first round was spent on the feet. Cruz displayed his trademark speed and was able to move and avoid many of Kenney’s punches while landing a high percentage of his kicks.

The second round was another standup affair. The two bantamweights continued to move and throw. Kenney made it a focus in the second round to attack Cruz with calf kicks. Cruz was able to come forward and land with his right hand consistently. Kenney landed a powerful counter left that landed flush on Cruz’s chin near the end of the round, which was the biggest punch of the round.

In the third round, Cruz continued to show off his speed, countering whenever Kenney came in. After failing on his previous four takedown attempts, Cruz was finally able to bring Kenney to his back. Kenney did an excellent job on the bottom, grabbing hold of Cruz’s neck and limiting his movement. Back on the feet, Cruz landed a sharp right hand. With two minutes remaining in the round, both fighters opened up and started going for the finish. Kenney landed a powerful right but Cruz came right back and landed a combination. Cruz looked much fresher and got a second takedown with ease. The round ended with Cruz in a dominant position.

What’s next for Cruz and Kenney

Saturday’s fight against Kenney was the first non-title fight for Cruz since Sept. 27, 2014, when he knocked out Takeya Mizugaki. The win for Cruz was his first since he defended the bantamweight championship against Uriah Faber at UFC 199 on June 4, 2016.

Kenney entered UFC 259 on a three-fight winning streak. The fight against Cruz was the biggest opportunity of Kenny’s career and the largest step up in the competition he had faced. The loss forces Kenney to remain in the same position outside of the top 15. Kenney will look to build himself up in his next fight.

Over the years I've watched the UFC develop into the powerhouse it is today, organizations like PRIDE, Strikeforce and WEC rise and fall, and Bellator emerge as a new force on the MMA landscape. Throughout it all I've remained captivated by the sport and I'm excited to cover what comes next here on MMA Insight.