(Stout, seen here fighting off a beach bum who snuck his way past securi-what’s that? The man in basketball shorts *is* Cody McKenzie? My sincerest apologies. Photo via Getty.)
Aside from being one of the most unique people to ever pass through the TUF house, Cody McKenzie might be the least intimidating-looking guy to *ever* fight in the UFC, Fred Ettish excluded (all due respect to both men). With his mangy appearance and general “No fucks to give” attitude, McKenzie was a fighter who made his name as one of the most prolific one-trick ponies in the game, scoring 11 out of his 14 career wins by way of his patented McKenzietine choke.
Unfortunately, McKenzie was on borrowed time from the very moment he made the transition to the big leagues, and today brings word that he has been released by the UFC following his disastrous performance against Sam Stout at UFC on FOX 9. The announcement was made by none other than McKenzie himself via Twitter, and immediately followed up by a request to fight Shinya Aoki. Additionally, McKenzie informed us that he already has two fights lined up — one at 180 lbs and one at 170 — and would like to fight for the WSOF in the near future. Personally, I’m all for the idea of seeing McKenzie vs. Palhares with the stipulation that both men can attempt their signature submissions and nothing else for the entirety of the contest. Any takers?
Despite being shut down in the TUF 12 quarterfinals by Nam Phan, there’s no denying the resounding impact McKenzie had on the show, mainly thanks to his pair of McKenzietine wins over Amir Khillah and Marc Stevens and constant needling of Josh Koscheck. That’s what won him over in my eyes, at least. After making the leap to the UFC and scoring a debut win over fellow TUF 12 castmate Aaron Wilkinson, McKenzie would drop a pair of submission losses to Yves Edwards and Wagner Rocha, leading many to believe that he would receive his walking papers right then and there.
Luckily, McKenzie was given another shot against four-time NCAA Division III championship wrestler Marcus LeVesseur at UFC on FUEL (remember those?) 3: Korean Zombie vs. Poirier. Clearly at a strength disadvantage, the “AK Kid” was outmuscled and outgunned by Levesseur in the early going, but only needed the smallest of windows to latch onto his signature guillotine and force the tap at just over 3 minutes into the first round.
McKenzie would make the drop to featherweight for his next fight. In what would become known as one of the most cruel matchmaking decisions in UFC History, McKenzie would be paired off against Chad Mendes, who had just challenged Jose Aldo for the featherweight title in his previous contest, at UFC 148. The fight lasted 31 seconds and saw McKenzie defeated via a brutal body shot TKO. Years later, matchmaker Sean Shelby would attempt to explain the circumstances that led to the booking of that slaughter, but has yet to outright apologize for it. A decision win over Leonard Garcia at UFC 159 would follow; the last of McKenzie’s UFC career.
Perhaps it’s appropriate that McKenzie’s final UFC fight would become memorable for all the wrong (also, bizarre) reasons — he was after all, one of the most peculiar, least “fightery” guys to ever step foot in the octagon. And although McKenzie may never rise to the level of a UFC or even a WSOF contender, he always came off as a friendly, heartfelt, and truly genuine guy at his core. And like we said, it’s hard to hate someone who never backed down from a fight, especially when that fight was with a loofah-haired, angry lip balm-applying, dickhead coach of a reality show competition.
We would like to wish Cody the best of luck wherever the road takes him, and to honor his equally memorable and improbable run in the UFC, we will pay tribute the only way we know how: With a grainy TV-recording of his TUF 12 fight against Team Koscheck’s #1 pick, Marc Stevens. We don’t think he’d want it any other way.
Shine on, you crazy son of a bitch.