Song Yadong is coming off of a loss for the first time in his UFC career. ‘The Kung Fu Monkey’ is looking to return to winning ways at UFC 265 this weekend when he takes on Casey Kenney.

A Wushu and Sanda prodigy, the Harbin-born fighter had his first MMA fight when he was just 15. Now still only 23, he has clocked plenty of octagon time since signing with the UFC in 2017 and racked up five wins and a draw in his first six fights.

Having broken into the top 15, he dropped a unanimous decision against Kyler Phillips at UFC 259. This time out, the Team Alpha Male star will be hoping to come out of the blocks much faster.

Speaking at the pre-fight press conference, he said,

“Last time I was kind of a slow starter so this time I’m going to pick up the pace even more and I’m going to use more of my grappling because my grappling is awesome as well. I was relying on my striking too much.”

Great atmosphere

In many ways, a lot has changed since Song fought five months ago. For one, the fans are back. And a full stadium will provide a very different atmosphere to the empty UFC Apex,

“Definitely I’ve been getting more excited because the last time Chinese fighters fought in a full arena (at UFC 261) as well and I went and I felt the atmosphere was great,” said Song.

As much as he’s pledged to showcase his grappling, Song’s racked up twice as many wins by knockout than he has by submission. Accordingly, he’s still ready to stand and trade,

“I might, probably I will. But I will just keep my eyes on my opponent and just improvise, see what happens.”

Biggest advantage

The loss to Phillips at UFC 259 saw Song lose his spot in the top 15. But the Chinese bantamweight believes that time is on his side and he will be back in the rankings before too long,

“I’m super confident that I’m going to get ranked again and I’m still young so I have a lot of time to improve. That’s my biggest advantage, I’m young,” he said.

Song expects his opponent to set the pace and believes it will just be a matter of timing as he looks to land his counters,

“Timing will be crucial in this fight because my opponent is well-rounded and he has a good pace,” he said.

Throwing down

For his part, Kenny knows exactly what sort of fight he is expecting as he earlier told the media that,

“We’re going to meet in the middle and throw down.”

He looks likely to find a willing partner in Song who has been the distance in his last three fights. This time around he has no intention of leaving it in the hands of the judges,

“I am going to try and get the finish.”