On Friday, September 25th, Strikeforce will be following up their ground breaking women’s championship card with their newly dubbed, "Challenger Series." Heading up the card that is meant to help fill out the ranks of the Strikeforce divisions is the 10 – 2 Army Ranger, Tim Kennedy. Kennedy was originally slated to fight the other "Cyborg," but an injury has sidelined Santos and, in his stead, Kennedy will face undefeated (10-0) Zak Cummings. Cummings is a decorated wrestler who has expanded his cross training more recently in an effort to further push along his MMA career. The armed forces hero, Kennedy is coming off a two round domination of Nick "The Goat" Thompson.
I caught up with Tim earlier this week to ask about the fight, his future, and his thoughts about the future of his current promotion, Strikeforce.
Mark Figula: Now that you are able to dedicate a full time effort into your MMA career, how has the training changed leading up to this Sept. 25th bout?
Tim Kennedy: It is great to be able to train full-time, without distractions. I'm doing about 15 workouts a week. For the first time ever I actually have enough sparing partners. I brought in some guys from the Raleigh/ Durham area, and I'm working with the 3rd Special Forces Group Combatives team getting ready for the All Army Combatives Tournament. I'm 100% healthy. My weight is coming off like it should. I'm already back down under 210."
Mark Figula: Strikeforce is dubbing this part of the "Challenger Series." Do you see this as a direct lead up to a title match or more a part of building the landscape in the division?
Tim Kennedy: I would like to see this lead to a title match. There are a lot of great guys that Strikeforce has that I’d like to go through and ultimately have a shot at and win a title match. For now though, I’m just trying to get a foothold for myself as a primary contender in the division.
Mark Figula: Speaking of Strikeforce... It seems they are the last (other) man standing. From an insider fighter's point of view, do you see anything different going on with Strikeforce (especially after the Fedor signing) or does it feel to you as though they are staying the course with the business practices that kept them in the game thus far?
Tim Kennedy: Signing Fedor is a big deal. Strikeforce has a strong business plan and executes that in a pretty efficient manner. Mediocrity in any business is not a good game plan. By signing some of the greatest talent out there, Strikeforce is positioning themselves as a strong organization with the assets to prove it.
Mark Figula: Do you see yourself fighting anywhere but Strikeforce in the next few years?
Tim Kennedy: I’m not ruling anything out, but I’m happy with Strikeforce and the way they treat their athletes. For me, it’s very important to be part of an organization that is professional and truly cares for their members.
Mark Figula: I know in your last fight you wanted to do even more than you had. Does that change the fight plan going into this one or is it more of just a desire in the back of your mind to do something spectacular for the fans?
Tim Kennedy: There is this huge contradiction in the industry about performance. A lot of people only care about who wins a particular fight, but then talk smack about how the athlete gets the win. I believe that we (the fighters) have an obligation to put on a show, but we also need wins. So you tell me how we should go about doing it.
Mark Figula: Strikeforce had to change opponents for you recently and the replacement is no slouch with a 10-0 record. How do you feel about facing Cummings?
Tim Kennedy: I love handing people their first loss.
Mark Figula: As exciting and entertaining as it was, there has been a lot of talk about the lack technical quality at Strikeforce's last main event. As a real MMA professional, do you feel the Carano - Cyborg match was a snapshot in time displaying where women's MMA is at this point in its evolution or do you feel it was just the way it played out?
Tim Kennedy: I think both those women are exceptionally talented, and gifted athletes that are remarkably technical. Some fights you have the opportunity to showcase your skills, other times you have to gut it out, and muscle through the fight.
Mark Figula: Following up on the whole thing with Barnett and then Diaz bowing out when CSAC seemed to shuffle up their testing procedures... Did you think that this was consistent with CSAC's behavior or did it mark some out of the ordinary activity?
Tim Kennedy: I don’t think it matters what the timeline, or the procedure of how the testing takes place as long as it is irrefutable, and medically sound. I believe that it’s the fighter’s responsibility to know what he is putting into his body at all times. This sport is about "martial arts." I’m ashamed that some people forget the origin, and the discipline to becoming a fighter, and choose to take the easy road.
Mark Figula: Is there one opponent out there that you just can't wait to get in the ring with?
Tim Kennedy: I’m excited that Matt Lindland is in Strikeforce. I hope to see Scott Smith again at some point in my carrier. I have some things to straighten out with Jason Miller, and I would like to fight Anderson Silva. I know that is way off, but he is at such a level now I would love to get out there with him and mix it up.
To see more from Tim, check out his blog at www.timkennedymma.com.