A few weeks removed from his UFC Fight for the Troops 3 victory over Rafael Natal and Tim Kennedy is already looking ahead to a opportunity to fight Michael Bisping. After years of fighting in the Zuffa-owned Strikeforce, Kennedy finally has chance to prove that he's always been as good as his counterparts in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
Kennedy's feelings for Bisping go back to when "the Count" squared off with Kennedy's friend and Ranger Up-sponsored, Jorge Rivera. The guys at Ranger Up made some lighthearted videos to help build up a fight that was going largely unnoticed by the UFC and fans. Bisping took offense to the obvious joke.
That bout saw Bisping victorious after landing an illegal knee to Rivera's head. The fact that Bisping followed up the win by spitting on Rivera's corner made it easy for Kennedy to dedicate his focus on the season three winner of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF).
Now ranked in the top 10 of the UFC's Middleweight division, a fight with Bisping seems all but guaranteed. The two traded barbs on Twitter, with Bisping telling Kennedy to give the UFC a call if he really wants to go ahead with the fight. Kennedy obliged.
But after last week's episode of UFC Tonight where Bisping said that he wants a higher ranked opponent than Kennedy, there is some concern that the Brit is trying to find a reason to back out of a fight.
"I'm sure he's going to try and duck me. A year and a half ago when Zuffa bought Strikeforce and just the prospect of me being able to fight him, I was like 'Yes! This is awesome!' I'm looking forward to fighting Michael Bisping. And he's like, 'who's this TIm Kennedy bloke? When that guy fights in the UFC, then he can come talk to me,' Kennedy told MMA Mania.
"And I'm like, 'oh, cool. I smashed a couple guys in the UFC. Michael Bisping, I want to fight you.' And he said, 'never mind, I don't actually mean that. Let me fight somebody who doesn't have a chance at beating me.' Yeah, he's gonna try and dodge me."
Kennedy views Bisping as nothing more than a 'keyboard warrior' -- a person who is a tough guy on the internet, but a coward when the social media platform is removed from the situation.
"He talks tough on Twitter but when it comes down to fighting me, he's going to be a chicken. He's going to try and dodge me. He's going to try and manipulate the situation to where at first I had to have enough fights and now I need to be ranked high enough. If that's the case, fine, whatever. Eventually he can't run from me."
And when I told Kennedy about Bisping's comments on UFC Tonight about wanting to face a higher ranked opponent for his return to action, he pointed out that with another win, it's possible that he'll be ranked above the 'Count.'
And while it's easy to look at the issues between the two fighters, Kennedy also recognizes that they have the potential to put on a 'Fight of the Night' worthy bout due to the stylistic matchup.
"Really, it's crazy. I'm a fight away from being higher ranked than him. And then he won't be ranked high enough. It's a great fight. Stylistically it's a great fight. Chemistry-wise, I think he's a jerk. I think he's a dirty fighter. And I like beating up dirty fighters. I look forward to it."
Kennedy explained what he meant by "dirty fighters." While fans have latched onto his statements regarding Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) usage in MMA, it's actually pretty low on his list of concerns. For him, it's the fact that fighters are rewarded for fighting dirty.
The example we discussed was Bobby Green's bout with James Krauss at UFC Fight for the Troops 3. Green landed two hard kicks to the groin that doubled Krauss over in pain. And while John McCarthy ruled the third strike legal, it was pretty clear the two illegal blows softened Krauss up for the kill shot.
"Statistically, a guy who gets kicked in the groin or poked in the eye, from that point on he has a huge disadvantage. Numerically, Reed Kuhn put out a statistic that said there is a 70% chance of losing from that point forward. The fighter who receives that foul has almost a three quarters chance of losing from that point forward.
"MMA has a whole bunch of things that need to be improved on. Judging, TRT, and fighter behavior in the cage. You can almost always get away with cheating and it needs to change."
"The only thing that's stopping a fighter from going out there and intentionally eye poking his opponent is his own integrity. And a lot of fighters don't have it, like Bisping. I'm not saying he's intentionally going out and doing it but it's almost every single fight."
Kennedy then recounted the absolute nightmare he was living after his Fight for the Troops 3 opponent, Lyoto Machida, was pulled from the bout to save UFC Fight Night 30. Kennedy hit twitter and called out everyone on the UFC roster from Urijah Faber to Alistair Overeem.
His perspective is that a lot of the fighters in the middleweight division are scare of the type of stylistic matchup he presents. Kennedy is the definition of "well-rounded" so it's very rare that an opponent will have an advantage over him.
"This has been an ongoing problem for me. I'm a bad matchup. I'm a decent striker. I'm a decent wrestler. I'm a decent grappler. I'm decent at all those things," he said. "You aren't going to beat me at any of those things. Your only prayer is fighting on the outside for five rounds and out-volume me."
He continued by explaining, "that's boring though and I don't want to fight like that. I want somebody who will go toe-to-toe with me and have fun. After the Rafael Natal, I want a marquee guy. Not saying I deserve a marquee guy, but I really want a marquee guy like Bisping. He's done a lot in the UFC."