From the battlefield to the cage.
When US Army Special Forces Green Beret Tim Kennedy stands across from Nick “The Goat” Thompson this evening at Strikeforce Challengers it will be a far cry from the combat this real American hero has seen over the past couple of years of his life. Assault rifle powered bullets whizzing by his head and shrapnel exploding at every angle make facing a single man under MMA rules a walk in the park for Kennedy.
And to think that none of decorated serviceman and fighter’s accomplishments may have been possible without a man that answers to the name of Chuck Norris. Fascinated by martial arts since he caught his first glimpse of “Invasion USA“, the youngster knew the direction he was heading early on in life.
After more than a year and a half layoff Kennedy has returned to get back to where he once was in the fight world when he jumps back in the game against the most dangerous and well rounded opponent Strikeforce could hunt down for him.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com had the chance to catch up with Kennedy just before his fight with Thompson to discuss his plans to return to California to train with The Pit and AKA, his constant desire to finish his fights, Chuck Norris and much more.
Cory Brady for FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Is it true that Chuck Norris played a certain role in your ultimate decision to become involved in martial arts?
Tim Kennedy: He definitely played a major role in me deciding to pursue martial arts. There’s like four Chuck Norris movies that I would watch over and over when I was like six or seven years old. I’d watch one of those movies and I’d run into my bedroom and practice all the moves. I’d practice all of my moves in front of this big huge mirror that my parents have. My parents have a video of me right after watching Invasion USA when I run in my bedroom and practice my karate chop.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: This fight with Nick Thompson is going to be your first fight back in about a year and a half. What was the reason for the recent layoff?
Tim Kennedy: I had a couple of deployments. I had to go to Afghanistan during the last year, just doing my military Green Beret thing.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Do you anticipate ring rust becoming a factor?
Tim Kennedy: I think it’s just going to be back to business as usual. The Dante Rivera fight was my first fight back in over a year and a half. He was 9-1 at the time and I had just been out of Ranger school for a couple of weeks. I had lost twenty something pounds at Ranger school and then I TKO’d him in the second round. I feel like ring rust is a reflection of how hard you’ve been sparring, how hard you’ve been working, and just the mentality. Last year guys were shooting at me and trying to blow me up, I’m going to funerals of my friends, so flying to Kent, Washington to fight on Strikeforce, I’m excited about it, but it’s not really nerve wrecking.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Are you planning on staying relatively active after this bout with Thompson?
Tim Kennedy: I’m going to be fighting as much as my body will permit. There are no other things that are going to be affecting my timeline at this point. I want to fight every couple of months. Before I came to the military, mixed martial arts wasn’t what it is right now. We used to fight at Indian Casinos, in Mexico, some barenuckle stuff in Florida. It seemed like I was traveling every month or so to get in on something, whether it be a Pancrase tournament, or a fight in Mexico, and I miss that. I miss being able to fight all of the time.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: How do you balance your training time along with being full time in the army?
Tim Kennedy: Well right now I’m training full time. I have worked for the military pretty much non-stop for the last five or six years. I can’t think of a thirty day time period that i was at home with my wife. I was either deployed or at school for the past five years non-stop. So I’m taking a break, I’m training. That’s what I want to do. I’m training right now two or three times a day. It’s unreal. I’ve never felt this strong, I’ve never been this fast, it’s a night and day difference between training full time and trying to balance it with the military.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: I know you spent a great deal of time with The Pit before making the move to Team Roc. Do you feel like the change of scenery is going to help you in this bout with Thompson.
Tim Kennedy: I think that the time I spent training at The Pit gave me a foundation that I couldn’t have received anywhere else. Chuck is the best light heavyweight champion the UFC has ever seen and probably ever will. Being able to go in the ring and have a guy like that to work with is priceless. I have a huge debt of gratitude to those guys. I can’t wait to get back to California. I’m relocating there in a couple of months and I’m going to be training back and forth with The Pit and AKA.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: What are some of the key areas you have been focusing on in the gym since your last win?
Tim Kennedy: I’ve been working on my striking a lot. I have that Pit foundation so I throw a lot of those big looping powershots. When they land they’re major knockouts but when they don’t we’re vulnerable to counter punching. I’ve been working my footwork and head movement a lot. I don’t like getting hit very much so I’m trying to not get hit as often.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: How do you feel you match up with Nick?
Tim Kennedy: It’s a really interesting match-up. He and I have really conflicting styles in the stand up. He’s a fast counter puncher with a really nasty jab, and like to be on the outside throwing big haymakers. I have a really good chin and I’m pretty much willing to exchange a couple of his jabs for a couple of my left hooks or right hands. He’s taller than I am and I’m pretty sure that the height will be an issue so I’ll be trying to get inside to land some power shots. I kind of foresee a stand up brawl going down.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Nick is well know for his ground game as well. Have you been spending some extra time preparing to defend the takedown in this bout?
Tim Kennedy: I’ve definitely been working my takedowns lately. He’s really dominant when he’s on top so if I could have it my way I’m keeping this on the feet.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Only one of your wins have gone to the scorecards. Would you say that it’s important that you are known as the kind of fighter that finishes his fights?
Tim Kennedy: I really don’t like those guys that are in there just to get the win. I think it’s the wrong answer. I think it’s wrong for the sport and I think that it’s the wrong mentality for martial arts. I have a lot of fans that are in the military and I think it’s the wrong way to display what me and my brothers do when we’re fighting. It’s one thing if the guys both go the distance while constantly looking for the finish, but to spend the whole fight counter punching and waiting for the other guy to make the mistake, what kind of fight is that?
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: What can fans expect for Tim Kennedy in the future?
Tim Kennedy: In the next year or two I’m looking at getting a crack at the title. It may not be in the next three or four fights but regardless of the ups or downs that are to come, I’m definitely going to be sticking around and you’ll be seeing a lot more of me.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Is there anyone you would like to thank?
Tim Kennedy: I want to give a big shout out to RangerUp.com. They’ve been taking care of me for the past three years. Those guys are my brothers. I also want to thank Soldiers Angels. It’s a non-profit organization for hurt soldiers. They’re an amazing group of people. Of course I want to thank Max Muscle for giving me all of the supplements to help me get ready for this fight. I also want to thank all of the guys at Team Roc for helping me train and I want to thank you for taking the time.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: You got it Tim, thank you and good luck.