NEWARK, N.J. – Following a unanimous-decision win over Leonard Garcia (15-11-1 MMA, 1-5 UFC) at UFC 159, Cody McKenzie (14-3 MMA, 3-3 UFC) said he’s stepping away from the sport for at least six months.
“I’ve got stuff going on,” he told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “I’m going back to work on my MMA game a bit more too, but definitely just need to turn my life around a bit, and do some things right.”
McKenzie declined to speak on his reasons for taking a break, but admitted he was disappointed at the result of the fight, which was scored 29-28, 30-27, 30-27 in his favor. The bout served on the Facebook-streamed preliminary card of the event, which took place at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
“AK Kid” called the judge who gave Garcia a round “an idiot,” but said the boos of the crowd, which came during a lackluster third round, were more upsetting.
After a pleasant pre-fight buildup, McKenzie said he and Garcia began arguing in the middle of the fight and trading fouls as Garcia grabbed his gloves and he landed a few shots to the back of the head.
“We got a little bit dirty,” McKenzie said.
“It was just a boring fight,” he said later. “I’m used to putting on more entertaining fights. It wasn’t my most entertaining fight. This was the first time in all my career I actually heard the crowd boo.”
McKenzie probably prompted the opposite reaction when he walked into the arena sporting a pair of loud, tight and colorful tights, which he said he borrowed from his longtime training partner and coach, Lyle “Fancy Pants” Beerbohm (whose mom makes the bright apparel). He said he only was able to secure a single sponsor for the event, Quest Nutrition, which paid him “a few thousand dollars” for wearing a hoodie.
“I wore these in tribute of Lyle,” McKenzie said. “He’s always been there for me, and he helped me this entire camp. I wouldn’t have won the fight without him.”
The fight put McKenzie, a veteran of “The Ultimate Fighter 12,” back in the win column following a first-round knockout loss at UFC 146 to Chad Menes, who put him down with a body shot.
Still, McKenzie admitted to slacking on his training and said he wasn’t in the best shape. No wonder: He reportedly cut 40 pounds to make the bout’s featherweight limit. Hence, he got tired later in the fight, and boos arose.
“This fight, I kind of went back to the old Cody McKenzie, where I was like, ‘Hey whatever, I fight for a hobby,’ and I fight better that way sometimes,” he said. “The Mendes fight, I think I took a little too seriously and trained too hard. Who knows, this game is a flip of a coin.
“I still want to be a world champ. I definitely need to work harder so I can push the pace higher. I have a lot of flaws in my game, and I mess up a lot. It’s all a learning process. I’m 25, and me and my buddy Lyle have just been figuring it out. I’m still figuring it out.”
If there was a silver lining to the experience, McKenzie said he heard his friend cheering for him cageside. His friends and family supported him through a less-than-ideal training camp. And he had the respect of UFC President Dana White, who praised his performance.
“Cody McKenzie beat [Garcia] tonight – every way you can beat a guy,” he said.
For complete coverage of UFC 159, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.