LAS VEGAS – Without expecting it, Kennedy Nzechukwu found himself headlining a UFC event.
The light heavyweight ended up serving as the main event of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 215 after Derrick Lewis, who was scheduled to fight Serghei Spivac, withdrew from the card hours earlier due to medical issues. That meant that Nzechukwu (11-3 MMA, 5-3 UFC) was now going to fight Ion Cutelaba (16-9-1 MMA, 5-8-1 UFC) at the top of the card.
It was a change that Nzechukwu was more than happy to accommodate.
“We had five fights in front of me, and they came in there and told me Derrick Lewis couldn’t pull through. I think he was sick or something like that, and they said they were bumping us to the main event,” Nzechukwu told reporters at the UFC Fight Night 215 post-fight news conference. “I was like, ‘Fine, it doesn’t really matter because, at the end of the day, it’s more exposure for me,’ so it just gives me more motivation to display my skills in the cage.
“So I was ready, super stoked, calm, which I haven’t been this calm. I grew up in the UFC, so I tried to build that mental state. I was fascinated. I was intrigued. I was ready. I just wanted to show my skills. Main event or not main event. I’m ready.”
Nzechukwu put on a dominant showing, stopping Cutelaba in the second round. The victory earned Nzechukwu a $50,000 Performance of the Night bonus.
The 30-year-old now has two consecutive wins, leaving behind a two-fight losing streak. Nzechukwu attributes the change in tides to his growing comfort level in the octagon.
“Cage awareness, I would say,” Nzechukwu said. “The cage comfort. I just find myself being comfortable in there. That’s what separates the champs from the guys who aren’t because they know how to feel calm, how to make it home. Those lights don’t bother them.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC Fight Night 215.