When Mixed Martial Artists say they are “prepared for war” against an upcoming opponent it typically falls under category of “hyperbole”. However, when it comes to Strikeforce middleweight contender Tim Kennedy, he actually has prepared for, and been in, war – the kind with real bullets and actual explosions. Kennedy’s high-level of service as a Green Beret sniper is well-documented and, like intelligence, humility, and a sense of humor, one of the many fundamental characteristics comprising the man who faces submission-specialist Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza this Saturday night at “Strikeforce – Houston”.
Kennedy recently took some time to speak with media during a conference call and offered his thoughts on a number of subjects related to the championship clash with Souza, including the difference training full-time has had his skill-level, his preparation for the Brazilian’s elite jiujitsu ability, and how he’s approaching the overall fight against “Jacare”.
“The only thing you can do when you are preparing for an event like this is prepare for every possibility. I’ve brought in the best guys in the world. Every night I have had five or ten black belts…trying to get prepared. I am prepared and excited. I just want to get in there,” said Kennedy when asked about his mindset only a week out from the fight. “This isn’t the other types of fighting. This is MMA. Every position that we are going to be in, I have the intent on trying to damage him. He is a very talented fighter. It’s going to be one of those brutal violent fights. I am fully prepared to go on the ground with him and every time he gets on the ground with me it’s going to hurt cause I have been training.”
Kennedy, who had previously split his time between developing technique at the gym and serving the country, continued on the subject of how increased training has affected him since focusing 100% on Mixed Martial Arts.
“I can’t really narrow it down to one thing. I had an opportunity to train with the best guys, real sparring partners, grappling partners. It’s not like I go to the nearest Green Beret and say can you come over here. I need someone to work out with. I am in a world class training center with some of the best strength coaches in the world. I have a personal strength coach, and all of the things that have never been in place through my whole entire fight career are finally there. I have people who know how to coach people and I have never had coaches before. I have been a self-coached fighter. Now it is a treat to have a guy who says you look like crap because it makes me want to do it better. Every single aspect of my fight game can change for the better since I have started training full time ten months ago.”
When the topic of how he sees the title-fight unfolding against Souza came up, or whether or not the involvement of Strikeforce’s middleweight championship played a role in his preparation, the 185-pounder responded, “This is just a fight. I have a lot of respect for Jacare. I think he is a very talented athlete. We are going out there trying to knock each other out or submit each other. There is no added pressure. This fight is no different than any other. It is a lot less stressful than anything I do overseas because I’m not getting shot at. This is fun; this is the good part of my life.”
“We are talking about the most accomplished grappler ever to be in MMA so it would be silly of me to make the assumption that I can go out there and have my way with him on the ground. So I have to be very careful in any position we are in, not even on the ground. He can finish fights with some pretty amazing standing submissions. It is going to be a very dangerous fight the whole entire time, I can’t make any mistakes. Controlling the takedowns and controlling the pace are the keys to victory,” continued Kennedy on the match-up. “I think both of us have the tools to win on both our feet or on the ground. I think it is going to be a mental war, going in there and knowing that this could be and probably will be a five-round exciting fight. I’m not going to quit. You are going to have to put me out. This is a good fight, a big fight. I’m excited for it. I don’t think there is any one key for winning.”
In closing, Kennedy kept simple. “It’s an honor to be on a card like this and fight such a talented fighter like Jacare. I promise I am going to go out there and put on a good show I am in the best shape of my life. I am excited about this fight. Go buy your tickets and come to the show. It is going to be awesome!’’
In addition to Kennedy vs. Souza for the middleweight title, “Strikeforce – Houston” also features “King Mo” Lawal defending his light heavyweight championship against Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante, undefeated Bobby Lashley facing Chad Griggs, and KJ Noons putting his boxing skills up against UFC veteran Jorge Gurgel’s BJJ and energetic pace. The event will be available for viewing on Showtime.
Stay tuned to Five Ounces of Pain for live coverage from Houston this weekend!