UFC 206: Five Possible Opponents for Tim Kennedy

UFC Middleweight Tim Kennedy

(Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Tenth-ranked middleweight Tim Kennedy is left without an opponent again after Rashad Evans was ruled out for UFC 206. Who could the ex-Green Beret fight in his next bout?

Tim Kennedy holds a UFC record of 3-1 with a unanimous decision victory over current middleweight champ, Michael Bisping and a first round knockout over Rafael Natal. His lone loss came in his last fight at the hands of Yoel Romero in September 2014.

Regardless, Kennedy is finally back after a long two year layoff from mixed martial arts. He was originally slated to take on Rashad Evans at UFC 205, but a week before the fight Evans was forced to pull out due to a lack of medical clearance. The fight was promptly rescheduled for UFC 206 in Toronto. Similar to UFC 205, Evans was pulled from this event as well, leaving Kennedy without an opponent yet again.

With “Suga” Rashad Evans out for the second time, it is highly unlikely the UFC gives the same matchup a third chance. The UFC matchmakers should find a replacement fighter for the Army Veteran.

Ever since the UFC broke the news to Tim Kennedy, he has actively been trying to recruit opponents on Twitter (some more serious than others). Below are some tweets from the Hitler Hunter himself:

The UFC could go in multiple directions in choosing a replacement for Rashad Evans. However, the brass can’t go wrong as there are plenty of middleweights who are ready and willing to jump onto a great card in UFC 206.

UFC Middleweight Jacare Souza

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Jacare Souza

This is a rematch over six years in the making. Jacare defeated Tim Kennedy by unanimous decision back in 2010 for the Strikeforce middleweight title.

Jacare is currently the third-ranked middleweight in the UFC. He was supposed to fight Luke Rockhold at UFC Melbourne this weekend, but Rockhold withdrew from the fight with an undisclosed injury. As a result, Souza was also pulled from the card.

With Tim Kennedy and Jacare Souza left without opponents, coupled with the fact that they were recently in a training camp and have a history, a fight between the two makes a lot of sense. Moreover, money talks in this industry and nothing sells quite like a bad-blood rematch.

The only question is whether or not Jacare would take the fight. Tim Kennedy is the tenth-ranked middleweight and Jacare is third. Would the risk be worth the reward for Souza? A win keeps his name relevant in title talks, while a loss puts him out of the immediate picture.

The fight makes more sense for Tim Kennedy as a win puts his name near the top with Rockhold. A loss would keep him in the bottom half of the top 15.

While a rematch between Jacare and Kennedy would be fun to watch, there are still four other viable options the UFC could go with.

UFC Mexico City Kelvin Gastelum

Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports

Kelvin Gastelum

Another fighter who’s name is in the ring to replace Rashad Evans is Kelvin Gastelum. Gastelum most recently missed the welterweight mark at UFC 205, putting him in perfect position to take a fight at middleweight (there’s also the factor of Dana White saying Gastelum will not compete at welterweight again).

While Tim Kennedy and Kelvin Gastelum don’t have the history that Kennedy and Jacare have, this would still be a good matchup for the two fighters. Even though the fight would take place at middleweight, Gastelum’s name is still worth something in the UFC and a win over a ranked welterweight in a higher weight class is still good to have on a resume. A win over Gastelum should almost guarantee a matchup with someone in the bottom half of the top five if not the top seven.

If Gastelum were to beat Kennedy it would prove that Gastelum can compete anywhere, and with anyone. On top of that, a win over Kennedy would almost guarantee a bout with someone in the lower half of the top 10 at middleweight.

This fight is a win-win-win. A win for Kennedy, a win for Gastelum, and a win for the UFC. Kennedy wins because he gets a fight with a ranked fighter, Gastelum wins because there’s very little at stake for him, and the UFC wins because Tim Kennedy will be able to sell this fight.

Kennedy made it well known that he lacks respect for Gastelum after he missed weight at 205. He will be able to talk enough in the pre-fight press conference and interviews to make people want to watch. This would be a fun matchup for UFC 206.

UFC - Anderson Silva

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Anderson Silva

Even though he is a shell of the fighter he used to be, Anderson Silva is still one of the most popular fighters in the UFC. A fight with Tim Kennedy on an already stacked card would do a world of good for every party involved.

Tim Kennedy called out everyone and their mother on Twitter the past few days including one of the greatest fighters of all-time, Anderson “The Spider” Silva. This fight would be huge for both involved.

A matchup between Kennedy and Silva makes perfect sense. It adds another layer of depth to a card that includes Daniel Cormier vs. Anthony Johnson, Max Holloway vs. Anthony Pettis, Donald Cerrone vs. Matt Brown, and Cub Swanson vs. Doo Ho Choi.

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Tim Kennedy is prepared to take on anyone, he made that quite clear on Twitter. While a win over Anderson Silva doesn’t mean what it meant back in 2013, it is still an impressive feat as Anderson is still one of the most dangerous fighters in the promotion.

On the opposite side, Anderson Silva needs a solid fight to get back on track after losing to Michael Bisping and Daniel Cormier. A fight with Tim Kennedy, while difficult, could be just what the doctor ordered for the former champ.

That said, this is one of the best possible matchups for the Army veteran. The UFC can’t go wrong with booking this fight.

UFC Middleweight Vitor Belfort

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Vitor Belfort

A fight between Vitor Belfort and Tim Kennedy would have as good a storyline as any of the other potential matchups. Vitor Belfort was one of the poster boys of the Testosterone Replacement Therapy era, and Tim Kennedy is one of the most outspoken adversaries to performance enhancing drugs.

While these two have never fought before, they both have more than their fair share of fight time, combining for over 30 years of professional fighting experience.

This fight without a doubt puts more on the shoulders of Vitor Belfort. Since 2013, Belfort is 1-3 with back-to-back losses looming over his head for the first time since 2005. A victory is necessary in his next fight if he wants to continue to fight in the UFC.

Tim Kennedy definitely benefits more from this fight as Belfort is still a ranked opponent. A win keeps him in the top ten and a loss shouldn’t affect him too much.

This fight doesn’t have the appeal some of the other fights have, but Vitor still has his supporters and he is usually good for an entertaining round or two. Much like Anderson Silva, Vitor is nowhere near the fighter he once was. A fight between Tim Kennedy and Vitor Belfort would still be fun to watch for the fans.

UFC Middleweight Gegard Mousasi

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Gegard Mousasi

Since losing a fight against Uriah Hall in September 2015, Gegard Mousasi is 4-0 including three stoppages. One can argue there is no middleweight hotter than Gegard Mousasi, which is why he would be an excellent opponent for Tim Kennedy.

A win over the relatively inactive Tim Kennedy would be another notch in Mousasi’s belt, putting him at 5-0 in 2016 and in position to get the next title shot after Yoel Romero. If he were to lose, he would be in a similar position, which is a fight or two away from challenging for the belt. Accepting a fight against Kennedy is a medium risk, medium reward fight for Mousasi.

This is another instance where Tim Kennedy would have more to gain from a matchup. If Kennedy were to win this bout, he would have a victory over a red-hot fighter who everyone is crazy for at the moment, putting his name in the top-five ballpark. A loss wouldn’t do much to hurt him as Gegard is streaking right now. Low risk, high reward matchup for the vet.

Even though Mousasi isn’t quite on the level of Jacare or Silva, he would still be an incredible pairing with Kennedy for an already great card. The UFC would be just as smart to book this fight as the rest of the previous matchups.

UFC Middleweight Tim Boetsch

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Honorable Mentions and Summary

Two fighters who should also be considered for a matchup with Tim Kennedy are Tim Boetsch and Brad Tavares. Both guys are free and could make for an interesting fight.

Tim Boetsch is coming off of one of his best performances with a first-round KO of Rafael Natal at UFC 205. Brad Tavares returned to action at UFC 203 with a win against Caio Magalhaes after a year on the sidelines.

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The UFC needs to find a replacement for Rashad Evans; Tim Kennedy has already made it quite clear that he is ready to fight anyone from Brock Lesnar to Anderson Silva. Any of the fighters previously mentioned could and would be excellent additions to the already impressive UFC 206 card.

Even though he’s older and not as well known as some of the other athletes in the UFC, Tim Kennedy is still an exciting and talented fighter. He is a veteran of the sport and a veteran of the US Army, and the UFC owes it to him to find him a matchup for this card. Give the man a fight and let him show the fans that he still has something left in the tank. He won’t let them down.

UFC 206 airs only on pay-per-view on December 10, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Hopefully we’ll be able to see Tim Kennedy on the card.

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