The moment Tim Kennedy caught word about a UFC Fight for the Troops card happening in 2013 he began his campaign to end up as part of the show.
A decorated Army Ranger, Kennedy actually attended one of the previous UFC Fight for the Troops show as a soldier, but now his dream was to fight in front of his fellow enlisted men and women and put on a show for them as a fighter inside the Octagon.
While many paint recently retired UFC fighter and Marine Brian Stann as the man who may eventually have political aspirations, Kennedy could be a good running mate after doing everything in his power to end up on the card.
"As soon as I heard rumors of it, even after my Roger Gracie fight, I didn’t get an in-cage interview but when I got to the back every microphone I got a hold of I was like ‘let me tell you I heard of this Fight for the Troops thing coming down the pipe and I really want to be on it. I’ll fight Liz Carmouche, I’ll fight (Cain) Velasquez, you name it, I’ll do it," Kennedy said when speaking to FOX Sports.
Kennedy got his wish and he was not only announced for the card, but as the main event opposite former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida. Unfortunately just a few weeks after the fight was announced an injury occurred that forced the UFC to shuffle Machida to a different card and it left Kennedy without an opponent.
So his solution to this quandary was to head to Twitter where he called out just about every middleweight on the UFC roster. One of them happened to be Brazilian Rafael Natal, who was riding a three fight win streak in the division, and when the UFC asked him to take the bout he quickly accepted.
Now Kennedy may have had some fun at Natal’s expense on Twitter, but deep down he was very appreciative that he took the fight. Not only was he bumping up his fight camp (Natal was scheduled about 10 days later at UFC 167), but he was stepping into the lion’s den facing a decorated veteran like Kennedy on a military base where the entire crowd will be nothing but enlisted servicemen and women.
"I know me as an opponent is not an easy fight. I’m not like fantastic at anything, but I’m decent at most things. So I’m not an easy dude to go out and beat. If you’re going to beat me, you’re going to have to take me to the judges. You’re going to have to go out and do some fancy footwork or maybe make out with Cecil Peoples in the back. But huge, huge, huge nod to Rafael Natal for stepping up to fight me one, because I’m a bad opponent, two to fight me on a Fight for the Troops card. Mad respect for him," Kennedy said.
Now with his opponent set and a date to fight in front of the troops, Kennedy went into overdrive to make sure he was ready to put on a show in his first main event in the UFC. At this point it’s safe to say Kennedy is bursting with excitement to fight at Fort Campbell on Wednesday night and Natal will have to deal with a whole different kind of animal.
"I want to be vicious and dangerous the whole entire fight," Kennedy said. "I want to give all those guys there the fight that they deserve and the fight that they want to see is an exciting one. So I’m going to go out there and be a berserker. I’ll be like a little ferret that just did a big line of cocaine."
Colorful descriptions aside, Kennedy’s main focus is beating Natal in front of the troops on Wednesday and pick up his second win inside the UFC Octagon. From there he’s hoping that fellow middleweight Chael Sonnen will come calling with a new assignment that will take him into the heart of South America.
Kennedy doesn’t want to face Sonnen with a win over Natal. Actually, he just wants to head to Brazil with Sonnen to help coach the Ultimate Fighter where he will be going against Wanderlei Silva. Kennedy uses the term coach lightly, however, as he has a different plan in mind.
"It would be a front like when we brought that movie crew into Iran to smuggle out the guys from Embassy," Kennedy said in reference to the ‘Canadian Caper’ that was recently morphed into the Oscar winning film ‘Argo’. "It would kind of be like that where I would be going in as a ‘coach’ but in truth I would be there solely to protect Chael Sonnen. They’re going to try to stab him. They’re going to try to poison him. They’re going to try to cut his head off. They’re probably going to try to pull a little Tonya Harding with some lead pipes on the knees in a back alley.
"I’m just saying, Mr. Dana White, I’ve been doing this for 10 years. I was doing that stuff before I was fighting. So Chael needs a little back up here and there, it would be incognito."
Kennedy’s Special Forces training would seem to qualify him perfectly for a role in Sonnen’s army in Brazil. Now he’s just waiting on the call to arrive. Until then, Kennedy will just continue to wait by the phone while he’s getting his last bit of training in before facing Rafael Natal on Wednesday night in the main event airing on FOX Sports 1.