Kennedy ready for return to the cage
There are other things Tim Kennedy could be doing right now.
A decorated member of the United States Army, the 31-year-old could still be overseas, fighting for what he believes in alongside his brothers and sisters in service; returning to active duty and once again serving his country has always been a part of Kennedy’s plan.
For the last couple of years, however, Kennedy’s focus has turned to his mixed martial arts career, a pursuit that has been put on hold for operational deployments in the past. After fighting twice in the span of two months and going the distance with Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza for the vacant Strikeforce middleweight title, Kennedy has been relegated to the sidelines, chomping at the bit to get back in action.
After a nearly seven months on the sidelines, he will once again take to the cage. Despite a slew of opponent changes, Kennedy is just happy he gets to hit someone again.
“I’m usually walking around all cranky and pissed off because I’m cutting, but I’m just smiles all over the place. This is so awesome that I get to fight. I’ve been chomping at the bit to get back in there. I’ve been training my butt off and I’m just excited.”
While Kennedy’s place on Saturday’s card in Columbus, Ohio was written in stone, the name of his opponent has been pencilled in and erased a number of times.
Initially, a trilogy bout with Jason “Mayhem” Miller appeared ready to be made, but the Bully Beatdown star was replaced with prospect Luke Rockhold, but he too was removed due to lingering injury concerns, leaving Kennedy to meet explosive Dutch kickboxer Melvin Manhoef. Regardless of opponent, Kennedy is focused on getting right back into the title hunt.
“I was looking forward to Jason because, as a fighter, both of our fights were really fun fights. They’re the fights that everyone looks forward to in their careers; give-and-take, back-and-forth, pulling out of submissions, landing a big punch, non-stop action. I think that third fight, if it ever comes to fruition will be the same.
“But I am just happy that I’m getting to fight. I think fighting Jason might have put me on a fast track to having the opportunity to get back in there and fight for the title, but Melvin is definitely a very talented, very dangerous, very experienced fighter, and I’m not looking past him. I’m hoping this will be a platform for me to rise back to an opportunity where I can fight for the title again.”
Kennedy understands that factors beyond his control play a part in determining what comes next, but having put his military service on hold, he wants to make sure to maximize this time and is ready to get back into the cage whenever the opportunity presents itself.
“If I go out there and I demonstrate decidedly how I’ve been training, how I can perform, the decisions will be made on their own. I won’t have to continue the discussions about where I sit; it will be very clear.
“Maybe right after Melvin I’ll be asking for another Top 10 guy that Strikeforce has, if that’s what they need to see; let’s do that. Give me another opponent right away. Give me another Top 10 guy.
“The middleweight division is deep; Robbie Lawler is coming off a tough loss to “Jacare,” but he’s still a Top 10 guy in almost every website, so maybe give me him? Let me fight the next best guy in all of Strikeforce. I took a reprieve from my military deployment so I could go and beat some butt, and they need to let me do that, because that’s what I’m here for.”
Before getting there, Kennedy needs to get through the power-puncher standing across from him in Columbus, and he’s confident that he has the well-rounded talents to do just that.
“It’s very hard to duplicate a five-foot-seven ball of awesome muscle [in training camp]; he’s very explosive, he’s very spasmodic in his movements, he has one-punch knockout power, so having somebody try to mimic that is not an easy thing.
“But I’ve been training to what I do very well, and I’m an MMA guy; I’m very good on my feet, I’m very good on the ground, I’m a very good wrestler. I feel confident that I can hurt him on his feet, I can hurt him on the ground and I can take him down. I think there are a whole bunch of different ways I can beat him in this fight, and I plan on using all of them.”
As soon as he’s done Saturday night, Kennedy will be getting right back in the gym, preparing for his next fight, ready to answer the call whenever it comes.
Hopefully, it doesn’t take seven months.