Las Vegas, Nevada — Kennedy Nzechukwu likely didn’t expect the barrage of strikes he had thrown his way in the opening round of his UFC 259 preliminary card fight.
In the first round alone, unofficially, opponent Carlos Ulberg threw over 100 strikes. More got through than Nzechukwu no doubt would have liked.
“Absolutely. I shouldn’t have taken those shots, but I was just trying to get my mind in it, because I had a year and a half layoff from the cage,” Nzechukwu (8-1) said following the bout. “I was trying to get focused.”
Nzechukwu, like Ulberg, is firmly in the “prospect” category for now. While City Kickboxing’s Ulberg got the spotlight in his debut, Nzechukwu is equally promising. In his third UFC bout Saturday, he ultimately picked up his second win, first finish (knocking out Ulberg in the second round), and his first Fight of the Night bonus.
Not too shabby, even if he did get hit a little too much. “He did get some strikes in, but I just knew I had to pressure him and keep that forward pressure, because cardio’s going to weather as time goes on,” noted Nzechukwu.
Throughout the fight, Ulberg appeared to have his head glued to the centerline. His hands rarely came up above chest level. That’s something Nzechukwu had picked up on ahead of the affair. “Yeah, me and my coach study the City Kickboxing guys, and we see that they usually keep their chin up in the air,’ Nzechukwu said, adding “and they have that lateral movement. [My coach] just wanted me to throw more of the hooks, to get him to my power hand before I threw my straight. We just worked on the hooks in the back before I stepped out to the cage.”
Nzechukwu wants more fights in 2021, but first he plans to go back to the drawing board with his coaches. He also addressed whether Saturday’s bout was a setup fight for Ulberg — one Nzechukwu was expected to lose. After all, Ulberg comes from a red hot team, where he trains alongside star Israel Adesanya.
“Yeah,” Ulberg replied to that suggestion. Only Nzechukwu doesn’t seem to be taken aback by it. “I mean to be honest, he wants to get paid just as much as I want to get paid. So I’m not going to put so much emphasis on that setup part of it,” he said. “I just want to win. Once I get the victory, I just want to go home and thank God. That’s pretty much it.”
Watch the full UFC 259 post-fight press scrum with Kennedy Nzechukwu above.