Tim Kennedy is taking on ferocious striker Melvin Manhoef tomorrow in Ohio at the Strikeforce event ( which Kalin Johnston will be covering for us). Tim was originally rumored to be fighting Mayhem Miller in a much anticipated rubber match, but that fight never materialized. However, Manhoef is always exciting and the clash of styles should make this an epic brawl. Tim, a Special Forces active duty soldier, is looking to get back on the road to a title shot and wants to win a championship before heading back into combat in the Middle East. Here is my exclusive interview with him:
Garv: You were rumored to be fighting Mayhem Miller in a rubber match, but that fight never materialized. Why not?
Tim: I think Strikeforce and Showtime network have a bigger picture about who they want to promote and win and that fight didn’t fit in to that bigger picture. I’m not privy to information they had, I just know that they wanted to see a different match up. So I Jason’s side I know he was ready to go, I know on my side I was ready to go, but there’s a network that has to air it and there’s a promotion that has to put it on. So all the pieces weren’t there, even though Jason and I were ready and reared to go punch each other in the face. I think Jason and I…that would always be a fun fight. I think it would be a fight that a lot of people want to see and I think we put on one heck of a show.
Garv: Do you think Melvin Manhoef is an easier fight?
Tim: It’s a much easier fight. Melvin is super dangerous. I’m not looking past him. I know that he knocks out everybody he fights, but in the full MMA package he doesn’t have all the tools to really be successful. Some people have laid out some ground work—ground work, no pun intended—on how to beat him, as long as you stick to that blueprint. I’m gonna mix it up a little bit. I’m gonna deviate from it from time to time in the fight. But I know that he’s gonna be scared to go to the ground with me, which will make striking with him easier. And I’ll always have the ground to go to when I want to make him worry about really losing the fight fast. I’m a fan of Melvin, I like watching his fights. This fight’s going to be all over the place including the feet, but definitely on the ground as well.
Garv: Robbie Lawler was taking a brutal beating before he got the KO.
Tim: It’s MMA. We’re wearing little gloves and we’re hitting really hard so a fight can be over in one second. You know, when you’re up against the ropes and your leg’s not going to be working for a month, you still have enough power to knock a guy out. I think I pose a lot more threat to Melvin than Robbie did in the sense that I have the same knockout power that Robbie does, but my wrestling’s a little bit better, my grappling’s a little bit better. So I pose a threat in more ways than just one.
Garv: Jacare won a decision against you. Would you like a rematch?
Tim: That fight’s behind me. It was close but I’m looking forward. If I get to face him down the road I’m going to be excited about it. But that fight’s in the past. I’m ready to knock Melvin out. I’m ready to go and fight whoever they have. If that road leads me back into fighting Jacare again, then I’m excited.
Garv: You’re still active duty Army, correct?
Tim: I’m active National Guard. I’m with 19th Special Forces group but I’m still on active duty status. I still wear a uniform, I still go train soldiers, but my job right now, for this few weeks is to go knock somebody out.
Garv: Do you have a special arrangement to train and compete in MMA? I know that the military can just up and ship you out at any time.
Tim: I’m stable for now. After so many deployments with Special Forces I’m in a position where they can keep me in one place for a little while. And that’s what’s going on right now. I don’t have a special arrangement but my job is to fight, my job is to train soldiers. So I’m not going to be deployed any time soon. If we go to war it will be my duty to go but right now my job is to fight.
Garv: You’ve competed in the Army Combatives tournaments. Any plans to continue that?
Tim: I’m not competing in them anymore. I’m just training soldiers in them.
Garv: Kind of unfair to have a pro fighter competing in them, right?
Tim: There’s some really good guys out there. It wouldn’t be as lopsided as one would think. I think you’d be really surprised about the level of competition that there is in the Army Combatives program. Some of my training partners here, they come down from Fort Hood, which is about 45 minutes north of here. [They’re] part of the Army Combatives team at Fort Hood, and they’re some of the best training partners. They are really talented. So don’t underestimate how good these guys are because they’re really good.
Garv: How’s your training going? You were down at Greg Jackson’s recently.
Tim: I spent a month at Greg Jackson’s when Jon Jones was getting ready for his fight with Bader. Rashad, before he hurt his knee was getting ready for Shogun. Condit was getting ready for his fight, Andre Arlovski was getting ready for his fight. So we had a whole lot of guys that were getting ready and I was there as everybody was getting ready to peak. Now that I come back to Austin I have Yves Edwards, Kamal Shalorus, Phil Cardella, a Relson Gracie blackbelt, a whole bunch of guys. I train at three different gyms and I have my coaches that go with me to each of them.
Garv: Feeling good?
Tim: I’m a hundred percent healthy and I’m just ready to go.
Garv: Do you anticipate on ever returning to combat duty in the military?
Tim: Oh yeah, I can’t wait actually. I have maybe one or two more years that I want to be competitively fighting. As soon as that time’s done, hopefully I’ll have a couple belts, whether it be the UFC or Strikeforce championship. If I have the Strikeforce championship, I’m looking forward to handing that back to Scott [Coker] and being like, hey man really appreciate letting me fight for you but I’m gonna go back and do some real work now. I’m gonna go serve.
Garv: Ok, Tim, thanks for the interview.
Tim: Thank you. Talk to you later.