With 11 first-round submission victories in 12 career wins, Cody McKenzie – and his opponents – never really knew where his conditioning stood.But in his two career losses (one official and one in an exhibition match), including his most recent to Yves Edwards, McKenzie found himself struggling to keep up with the pace.
"I've never had good wind," McKenzie recently told MMAjunkie.com Radio. "Everybody who's watched me fight knows that. I've finished all my fights in the first (round), and when it's gone to the second, I got finished. The two times I've ever been beaten, I gassed (in) both of them. So, I knew that my cardio needed readjusting, so I have worked a lot more on my cardio for this fight ... from now on out you won't see me gassing."
"I'm going to go in there and fight that same pace I've always fought, but this time I'm not going to fold. I feel like the two fights I did lose, I was winning until I couldn't breathe anymore – then I got finished for it. Fifteen minutes isn't a long time, so you won't see me doing that any more. I might have to sit down after the 15 minutes, but like I said before, if it goes to a decision, I'm not happy with my performance anyway."
"I'm not looking at Vagner Rocha as anything special. I look at him as I look at any opponent: I'm going to beat him up. I'm usually pretty confident going into a fight. Like pretty much at the end of this fight, I don't want him thinking 'Oh, I hope I can get a rematch with Cody McKenzie.' I want him being like, 'Please, please, never ever lock me in a cage with that kid again.'
"I don't want people thinking that it was a close fight or that it was decent. I want this guy to feel it, get punished from the very start to the very end, and that's what's going to happen. If he wins, I feel that I should retire myself. If I lose two in a row, I don't feel that I belong at the high level. So, this is my fight for redemption, and I'm going in there to get it."
"There's always pressure in a fight to a point. "I go in there thinking that it's a fight. One person wins, one person loses, and I know that, but I always go in there expecting myself to win and planning on winning. For sure, (there's) a whole new pressure coming off a loss. Like I said, if I lose two in a row, I don't deserve to be at the high level. I should go back to the smaller shows and work my way back up and get some wins if I lose.
"But I'm definitely not planning on losing. I'm going to destroy this guy."
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\Cody McKenzie fights Vagner Rocha fight Saturday at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. McKenzie vs. Rocha airs on the UFC Fight Night 25 preliminary card that streams on Facebook, but could make the night's main card airing on Spike TV, time permitting.