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A few days after conflicting reports over a Ultimate Fighting Championship bantamweight matchup came out, a fight has materialized.
One day after his dominant performance against Heili Alateng at UFC on ESPN 16, Casey Kenney (15-2-1) was rumored to have an upcoming fight booked against Nathaniel Wood (17-4). Both fighters denied that they had been offered the fight, but it soon came to fruition. The report first came from MMA H.E.A.T. Podcast on Sunday, and on Thursday, Kenney confirmed on his Instagram he would be facing Wood at UFC 254.
At UFC on ESPN 16, Kenney battered Alateng for 15 minutes with repeated vicious left kicks to the body and head to put himself on a two-fight win streak. Two appearances on Dana White's Contender Series did not lead to Kenney’s initial signing with the promotion, as he had to go win interim flyweight and bantamweight titles in the Legacy Fighting Alliance to earn his place on the roster. Kenney made his debut by upsetting Ray Borg, and then beat Manny Bermudez shortly thereafter. His only loss inside the Octagon came against Merab Dvalishvili in February.
Wood bounced back from his first stoppage loss due to strikes – his previous TKO defeat came from a badly broken nose in 2016 – by taking just his third career decision win over John Castaneda. That knockout loss coming to John Dodson in February snapped a three-fight win streak in the UFC and an eight-fight overall win streak that saw “The Prospect” finish each of those eight opponents inside the distance.
UFC 254 goes down at the Flash Forum in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on Oct. 24 . Headlining the final card on “Fight Island” in this stretch is a lightweight title unification bout as champ Khabib Nurmagomedov comes to blows with interim titlist Justin Gaethje. Drawing the co-main assignment is a potential championship eliminator matchup at middleweight when Robert Whittaker faces Jared Cannonier. Also on the main card is a heavyweight scrap pitting Alexander Volkov against Walt Harris.