Tim Kennedy (12-3) will step inside the Strikeforce cage for the first time since August 2010 when he meets Dutch bruiser Melvin Manhoef (24-8-1) at the Strikeforce: "Feijao vs. Henderson" event on March 5 in Columbus, Ohio.
The Army super-soldier was originally set to face Jason Miller for a third time, but when the bout was called off for unknown reasons, Luke Rockhold stepped up; however, the young 185-pound prospect was recently forced to pull out of the fight due to injury.
Enter "No Mercy."
Kennedy tells MMAmania.com the switch in opponent hasn't impacted his training in a negative way.
"Training is going great. I've been preparing for a fight on March 5 for a couple months. I had to change things up a little bit for a shorter striker compared to a long grappler. I've worked a lot on my footwork and head movement in the striking department."
While Kennedy would've liked to settle the score with "Mayhem," he's glad he gets a chance to showcase his skills against Manhoef.
"I don't know why the Miller fight fell through. I know Luke got hurt. I just want to fight. I want to fight the best. There are a lot of guys in my division that I want to fight. Melvin has always been one of them, so I'm pretty excited."
The last time Kennedy had a mixed martial arts (MMA) bout was last summer. He was narrowly defeated by Ronaldo Souza for the vacant Strikeforce middleweight title.
While he still believes he won the fight, which was a unanimous decision in favor of "Jacare," Kennedy admits he could've done some things differently.
"If I were to do it all over again, I would have picked up the pace sooner. I still think I won that fight. I know it was close, but giving a guy a bloody cut doesn't meant you won the fight. I think in addition to pressing the action sooner I should have gone to work on the ground more. After I took him down both times I was tentative to engage. I should have just pounded him."
A win over Manhoef may give Kennedy the chance to "do it all over again."
Throughout his MMA career, Kennedy has defeated the likes of Jason Miller, Nick Thompson and Trevor Prangley, but there's one fight that sticks out more than any other.
"Actually the most meaningful fight was my first one with the IFL against Dante Rivera. I had deployed to Iraq that year and just finished Ranger School a week prior. Ranger School is the most difficult school outside of Special Forces training. Most guys lose 20-30lbs in Ranger School and it takes them up to a year for their bodies to recover."
Over two years later, Kennedy found himself fighting for Strikeforce. Some fighters find it difficult to hit their stride when they're on a bigger stage, but don't expect the former Green Beret to fall victim to the jitters.
"My experience in the cage had little to do with me not having jitters. When you have been blown up by an IED, RPG'd, and shot at, stepping into the cage is no big deal. No matter how large the promotion (or) venue, I'll always be chilled."
While Kennedy was unable to compete from early 2003 to late 2006 due to his duties in the military, he was never really inactive.
"Every place I went I trained. If I was deployed I would find other guys who would roll. If we didn't have mats, we would train on carpets. We got real primal without strength and conditioning too. Going old school barbaric is never a bad thing. When I came back from Iraq, I was 230lbs of pissed off wanting to fight muscle."
Kennedy believes he can bring that "pissed off" attitude with him when he meets "Marvelous," and predicts an early finish.
"Melvin is always dangerous. He has one punch KO power and those punches come in dozens. I'm confident standing with him. I just had a five-round fight for the title, which was 24 minutes on our feet. I will KO Melvin in the first round."
Kennedy took the time to thank those who have supported him.
"First I want to thank the fans, my brothers and sisters in uniform and the National Guard for letting me knock people out. All the people at the non-profits that work so hard to help soldiers like Soldiers Angels, and the Green Beret Foundation. Rangerup.com for keeping me focused and training, and all my other sponsors. Gerber Knives, Toe2Toe, FightMeMMA.com, Max Muscle, and my coaches."