The Return of Kasey Tanner

By Danny Jones, @Tidy_MMA on X

Twenty-nine months have passed since Illinoisan bantamweight Kasey Tanner last graced the LFA octagon.


Only once has the 32-year-old competed since – in a Dana White’s Contender Series matchup with Brazilian Jean Matsumoto on September 12th 2023.


Lauded as one of the greatest bouts in the history of Contender Series, the spectacle garnered universal acclaim. Both UFC CEO Dana White and commentator/ former UFC athlete Michael Bisping gave a standing ovation at the conclusion of the bout.


Whilst the decision went in Matsumoto’s favor, Dana White awarded the Fight Ready MMA & Fitness prospect his win money, such was his performance; a gesture color commentator Laura Sanko added was “much deserved”.


For Kasey, however, there was no escaping the disappointment of his first loss across both his amateur and professional MMA career.


I was disappointed, of course” Kasey admits. “I wasn’t happy with the results and the way it went. I didn’t fight to the best of my abilities. I had some things leading up after that weight cut that kinda messed me up a little bit – kinda limited my skill set that I was able to use. I got a lot of good feedback, but for me, taking a loss was tough. That was my first loss in my career, and I just want to get it back and show that I belong with those guys”.


It was a good fight on Contender [Series], but I know I can beat that guy; I can do better” Kasey says. “I learned a lot from the experience”.


Ten months removed, Kasey now looks towards his highly anticipated return to professional competition on July 12th 2024 at LFA 188, in Chandler, Arizona. Hosted at the Gila River Resorts & Casinos – Wild Horse Pass, Kasey competes in the co-main event against Brazilian Thiago Belo.


A reschedule almost fourteen months in the making, both athletes were originally set to matchup May 19th 2023, at LFA 158. Illness, however, forced Thiago Belo to withdraw from the bout.


With eighteen previous professional bouts, Thiago Belo is the most professionally experienced opponent Kasey has fought in his career to date.


I think I’ve definitely fought some better guys” Kasey admits. “The last guy I fought [Jean Matsumoto] I think has a little bit better resumé. I think he is aggressive – comes out ready to go, comes out fast, hard. From what I can see, I don’t think he’s gonna be able to keep up with my [pressure or] pace that I’m planning on putting on him. I think it’s gonna be a fight, it’s gonna be a fun one, and I’m prepared for wherever it goes. [I’m] feeling comfortable, feeling confident – just ready to go”.


One can not overstate the importance of Kasey’s matchup on July 12th.


Not only will the bantamweight want a statement performance in the wake of the first defeat of his MMA career, but all indications suggest victory at LFA 188 will propel Kasey into the heights of the UFC.


They’ve told me they want me to win one more; that’s been the word” Kasey reveals. “Dana talked to me in the back after that fight, and I’ve got word from Sean Shelby. They’ve been waiting on me to get a win. They didn’t sound like they were gonna bring me right in on short notice, but they wanted me to get back in the win column. So that’s what I’m focussed on. Gotta get that win, and then I think we’ll move on from there”.



The author extends his utmost gratitude to Kasey Tanner and Jamie McClintock for making this article possible.


Image sourced from MMA Junkie (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images).

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