Kennedy on upcoming bout vs Natal

FOX Sports Jordan Newmark
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Underrated. Overlooked. Underappreciated.

Those are the words that UFC Tonight co-host Chael P. Sonnen chose to emphasize how much he thinks and has thunk of UFC middleweight Tim Kennedy for several years now. Finally, the Special Forces sniper will get his shot at the limelight with a main event slot against Rafael Natal at Fight for the Troops live on FOX Sports 1 from Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Via the interwebz and sporting a fashionable faux-hawk (?) or possibly bed-head, Kennedy talked to Sonnen and Kenny Florian on UFC Tonight about his big Octagon opportunity to not only headline his first UFC card, but to do it on such a special event as the third Fight for the Troops.

“I’m excited to be fighting for my brothers and sisters in uniform,” affirms Kennedy. “I’m excited to be headlining an event. I’m excited to be fighting Rafael Natal. Everything, I’m excited about. All the pressure is coming from me. I really want to demonstrate I’m not to be overlooked anymore.”

The 16-4 product of Team Jackson-Winkeljohn’s will be taking on Brazilian jiu-jitsu blackbelt Natal. While Kennedy had a successful debut against one of the best BJJ blackbelts in the world Roger Gracie, Natal is on a hot streak in 2013 winning 3 consecutive bouts with the most recent being a Fight of the Night earning unanimous decision against Tor Troeng in September. Originally, Kennedy was slotted to face Mark Munoz, but thankfully the UFC replaced the wrestler with possibly an equally as tough grappler for Kennedy to tangle.

“I have a lot of respect for him,” reveals Kennedy. “I think he’s a very tough guy. He’s well-rounded. He’s got great jiu-jitsu. He’s got good wrestling. He’s a very unorthodox striker with a lot of power. He comes at you from all angles. He has a great heart and never quits. I’m expecting to give the troops what they deserve and that’s a good fight.”

As he’s shown in many hilarious Youtube videos, Kennedy has an incredibly likable and humorous personality outside of the Octagon. Meanwhile inside the cage, Kennedy can flip on his gameface, which Sonnen notes is one of the most serious in the sport. That poker face is a mix of years in the military and MMA, which Kennedy knows how to turn on and off.

“I’ve been doing it for so long,” tells Kennedy. “I’ve been fighting for 13 years. 10 years in Special Forces, you can’t take that stuff home with you. I am a nice guy. I love having a good time. I love cooking. I love hanging out with my friends. But when it’s time to work, it’s time to knock a guy out or choke him out. That’s going to be no different next week.”

Lastly, Florian asks about Kennedy’s remarks regarding returning to active duty one day. “I always have that nagging feeling of wanting to go back and getting my long gun back and be a sniper on a Special Forces ODA, which is the greatest job in the world, but I have some goals in MMA that I set out to do and I’m not going to stop until I get them,” says Kennedy who estimates he could compete in MMA for another 5 to 7 years.

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