Natal steps in to fight Kennedy

After putting out a challenge to everyone in the UFC

middleweight division, Tim Kennedy finally has an opponent for the

href="http://www.ufc.com/event/ufc-fight-night-fftt-fort-campbell#/fight"

target="_blank">UFC Fight for the Troops 3 main event.

It’s Rafael Natal.

The 30-year-old Brazilian has accepted the opportunity for the

biggest spotlight of his career, FOX Sports confirmed with UFC

officials on Tuesday.

Despite the short notice, the bout will be contested as a

five-rounder, the UFC confirmed.

Natal has quietly put together a strong stretch, earning wins in

five of his last six octagon encounters, including a three-fight

win streak that includes victories over Tor Troeng, Joao Zeferino

and Sean Spencer.

Natal, who trains out of Team Renzo Gracie in New York, is

17-4-1 overall with eight submission finishes. That should make him

a worthy style foil for Kennedy, who has a grappling heavy style

with eight submission victories of his own.

The 34-year-old Kennedy (16-4) was left opponent-less last week

after his original foe Lyoto Machida was plucked from the card to

fill in for an injured Michael Bisping against Mark Munoz on Oct.

26.

Kennedy (16-4) won his octagon debut in July after being brought

over from Strikeforce. He defeated Roger Gracie in a unanimous

decision victory.

Meanwhile, Natal had been expecting to face Ed Herman at UFC

167, and now the UFC will be left to search for a new opponent for

him, but at least for now, the more pressing issue is resolved, and

with that, UFC Fight for the Troops 3 takes place on Nov. 6 from

Fort Campbell, Kentucky.