For Kenny “The Boss” Cross, the goal has always been to bring his team and loved ones up with him as he achieved glory in MMA. With an impressive 10-3 record, including the outstanding fact that he has never been to a professional, has earned him the opportunity to fight on Dana White’s Contender Series on August 18. While he plans on enjoying it with his community, he knows he has to be a bit selfish now to succeed.
“I think right now, I have to focus on myself cause I’m not there yet. I feel like I have to go out and win this fight especially, then I have to win a couple of UFC fighters and gain the leverage and gain the power and be the A-side fighter and I’m going to be real quick in the organization to be able calling my shots I feel like in my fights to get what I want. Once I get the recognition, now I can bring my people with me. I can bring Cage Side (his management team) and then I’ll be excited for them. But for now, its like, one false move and it all goes down the drain and I blew it for everybody else. With that kind of pressure, I kind of put everybody on the backburner and I just focus on myself cause if I think of everybody right now, that might to something to my mental and mess me up. So I’m thinking about myself like I have every fight, I just know a couple of months down the line from down, my people are going to be able to live this dream with me. That’s all I can ever ask for, not letting my supporters down that have believed in me thus far and my sponsors and everyone back home that’s believed in me. Not letting them down, not letting myself down, I have to put myself first before thinking of other people.”
As he said, Cross is trying his best to keep himself in a state with no pressure. However, that hasn’t always been easy for him as he has always had the fear of embarrassing himself in front of others since he was young. Fighting in front of thousands of people was hard for him to deal with at times, though he loved it. Cross says, what makes him relaxed now to do so, is that he is more prepared.
“I think with the more training that I’ve got, the more confidence came with it that I wasn’t going into fight night thinking what am I doing? There was a while where I didn’t know what I was doing. I’d tell myself, why are you even here? This is crazy! But since I’ve been training at Michigan Top Team and training so hard, I know I have the skills and the tools and that’s the preparation that even if I lose, its not going to be embarrassing but I’m not just going to go out there and get my ass whopped. If I lose, you’re getting an exciting fight.”
Speaking of exciting fights, Cross’ fight on the Contender Series will be one many will be paying attention to. He will be facing the undefeated Kevin Syler, who is also a Contender Series veteran. Last year, Syler defeated Lance Lawrence on the Contender Series but was denied a contract because he missed weight. Now he will be getting his second chance against Cross in his new weight class, lightweight. The bout was initially supposed to take place on the August 4th show but Syler had to pull out for medical reasons. Now the fight is rescheduled for the August 18th show. Going through the process of having to make weight twice and take the fight again on short notice, Cross’ manager Liam DeMond believes only makes him stronger.
“The fact that just 2 weeks ago, Kenny stepped on the scale expected to earn his ufc contract. Made weight like a pro. Went through 3 different fighters in 6 days. 6 days before the fight. Dealing with not knowing if he’s going to have a fight or not, he still showed up ready to go. Still made weight. Now, just 2 weeks later, he’s back out again ready to make weight again. That alone to me is showing that he’s UFC ready. But what will really be the final cherry on top is his performance Tuesday night. We are going to witness something spectacular.”
To get the contract, he will have to be spectacular in defeating Syler and when Cross discussed the matchup with Syler, he believes he couldn’t have drawn a better matchup.
“I saw the way he wears damage and its not a pretty site and he was getting hit by 45ers…beanpoles. I wish I watched his last contender (series fight), I wish I would’ve watched that fight before my (production) interviews because I would’ve been a little more cocky than I was. I gave him a lot of credit, I was just going off what people were telling me, I watched his fights on YouTube but it’s not like you go and watch his last Dana White’s Contender Series (fight) on fight Pass and you’ll see a 145 pound beanpole barely hitting this guy and Kevin’s face just swelling up.”
“I’m excited to see how hard I can hit him and how quickly I can end this fight. I’m not even going to try and hit him as hard as I can, but as soon as I tough him, I want to see how he wears this type of power compared to how dealt with the 45ers, the featherweights.”
Kenny Cross sees many advantages for himself in this fight, but for him, he says it’s the same keys to victory as every other fight, timing, fight IQ and reacting off of his natural instincts.
“For me and for a lot of fights it’s kinda the same but; timing, fight IQ, just being able to react off of natural instincts in this game is so crucial, overlooked, underrated, people don’t understand and they throw strikes just to throw strikes. Everything that I throw is with intent, everything that I throw is from distance that the percentage of me taking damage to the percentage of you taking damage, in that exchange, I make sure is in my favor. I can calculate it so fast in the fight, I know where I’m at. I corrall you to the cage, if I put you somewhere, it’s for a reason. Everything is so calculated. Then when I’m, then you get to see the power. It’s never about the power first, I put you in position to hit you and not get hit, but after I get there, then the power comes. Then you’re dazed and confused and you don’t know what’s going on. it’s a wrap from there. So just timing and speed, fight IQ being aware of my surroundings, its’ just next level.”
As for a prediction, Cross doesn’t see this fight lasting long.
“I’m going to go with, it’s going to be a KO in the first round, maybe two and a half to three minutes in.”
“I’m going to probably hurt him with a one two knee to the chest and I’m going to finish him with a two. I’m gonna hit him with a straight left and he’s going to go to sleep in the first three minutes.”
After going through a drama filled initial fight week when Syler pulled out and the last-minute replacement wasn’t medically cleared, Cross is itching to get into the cage and make a statement. Ahead of the fight, he wants Dana White and the matchmakers to know, what he is going to do in the cage is normal for him and they will have a new superstar on their roster come August 18.
“Don’t be caught off guard when I go in there and make this fight look easy, just expect a new superstar to come into the game, and you’re going to find him August (18th).”
“I just don’t want them to be caught too off guard. They’re going to be standing out of their seats. For me it’s nothing new, that’s what happens when I fight.”