Strikeforce middleweight Tim Kennedy spoke with Bloody Elbow on Thursday night from New York City where he is shooting the cover for an upcoming edition of Muscle & Fitness. We chatted about his comments pertaining to UFC middleweight Michael Bisping and Kennedy got really fired up. Here is the unedited transcript of that part of the conversation:
Matt Bishop: What brought on this war of words with Michael Bisping?
Tim Kennedy: I watch a lot of video and a lot of tape and I was watching the fight between Jorge Rivera and him and now that there's the potential for me to fight some of those guys, a lot of guys I've been ignoring, I'm now watching more with a little bit more interest. So I was watching that fight and dude, my blood just turned cold when I watched him knee Jorge in the head and then I watched him walk over to the corner and spit on them. I'm a martial artist, I'm a professional athlete, I'm a soldier and everything about that fight was disrespectful to everything I stand for. Just watching that fight stirred the pot. He is everything I'm against. He cheats. And when I say cheats, I hate all cheaters. I hate guys that use steroids, I hate guys that grease, I hate guys that throw illegal punches, or say they got kicked in the groin so they can get a break, guys that throw illegal knees to the head. I hate them across the board equally. But the worst situation is when the cheater wins and now it's like every single fighter out there is like, 'Oh, I can knee a guy in the head and get a slap on the wrist and then I can go back in there and win the fight.' That's idiotic, it's offensive and I personally take it as a big stain on the whole entire sport. So I really wanted to demonstrate that there's different athletes out there. That's there's guys who do the right thing, who fight fair. Fighting Michael Bisping wouldn't be about the money and that's why I said I'd give my fight money to charity. Let me just fight this guy and show them I can fight fair and win fair, and more importantly, I'm not fighting for the money, I'm not fighting for the fame. I'm fighting to fight. The charity of my choice can keep the money. So just to demonstrate and exaggerate the point that there are athletes out there who care about fighting, they care about martial arts and care about doing the right thing.
MB: Does it sadden you that he's such a big name in the sport and he displays the image he does when he's in such a big position?
TK: I think it's a big black eye on our sport. A sport that's new, a sport that's emerging. We should have the class acts, the sophisticated, well-spoken, intelligent, respectable guys that can go out there and really represent this sport and help it grow. Then there's the guys who are going to go out there and damage the sport. They're going to go out there and look like thugs, they're going to go out there and look like cheaters. That's the worst thing this sport needs right now. We're a growing, emerging competition and we need to display ourselves as true professionals. It's already hard enough because we're "cage fighters," because we're "no holds barred fighters." We already have everybody talking crap that we're "human cockfighting" and states that still don't allow it, i.e. New York. Give us the benefit of the doubt and let us demonstrate that we really deserve to be considered the most elite athletes on the planet. Let us act like it.
Stay with us after the jump for much more from Kennedy ...
MB: Did you read what Bisping said about you to MMA Fighting?
"...Here you've got another fellow professional of the sport that should know better, and he's directing it at me. I've never met the guy, he doesn't even fight in the UFC, and I just said, You know what, Tim Kennedy? Go f**k yourself. You've missed the train. That bandwagon left two months ago. I don't know what his problem is. Again, he's another one in a long list of people who's trying to make a name off my back."
What do you say to that?
TK: The bandwagon for doing the right thing has never left. It's always there. I'm definitely on that bandwagon. I'm always begging for people to hop on. The opportunity to do the wrong thing is always there, too. That's what he's taken advantage of. I'm the antithesis of that. I'm going to go out there, I'm always going to do the right thing and I'm going to encourage people to do the same. If I'm a nobody and I'm just trying to ride his coattails, then maybe he could follow my lead and do the right thing every once in a while so the thousands of fans that look up to him that send me hate mail can realize that maybe there's a bigger opportunity than the one he's doing right now and that's to do the right thing, to fight fair.
MB: How do you take to being told to "Go f--- yourself" by another fighter?
TK: I'm an eight-year Green Beret, Ranger, sniper. I've been told a lot worse things to my face, so I'm not afraid to hear about it. I'd never say that to another person, I'd never say that to another colleague, I'd never say that to another fighter. So yet again, it's just a demonstration of his character.
MB: It seems like he's really gotten under your skin. Have you ever had anybody in your career that's gotten under your skin to this extent?
TK: I don't think there's anybody in the sport that's ever blatantly cheated as clearly as he has and then walks away with the win from it. It's not him necessarily, it's just the idea of everything about him. It's everything he says, it's everything he does. It's the way he fights. So no, unless you can think of someone who's cheated worse and gotten away with it, no.
MB: Do you think it would've been a shame if he would've basically been rewarded for his actions in that fight with a coaching spot on "The Ultimate Fighter" and getting a big money fight from it?
TK: Realistically, that was very possible. He was two athletic commissioners away from getting a spot on "The Ultimate Fighter" as a coach. Not only was he given a hand-out win from a ridiculous decision in the cage, but then even worse, he's then given a spot on one of the most prestigious aspects of the UFC as a coach on the show and then fighting for the No. 1 contendership. That's absolutely asinine. He cheated! He should be punished. He then spit on the corner. He should be banned! He shouldn't be rewarded! It doesn't make any sense.
MB: Do you think it's a problem right now in the sport in general where you see guys who misbehave and end up getting rewarded for it, whether it's big fights or things of that nature?
TK: Absolutely. Here's the problem, you know. Let me give myself a mohawk, dye it red and go out there and talk some smack and then I'll be fighting for six figures. Or let me illegally knee a guy in the head, spit on his corner and then give me a spot on "The Ultimate Fighter." And then we'll take Brian Stann, a Silver Medal recipient, a war hero, a Marine captain. He's had like 10 fights under the Zuffa banner between the WEC and the UFC but he's fighting a newcomer to the promotion in Jorge Santiago. It doesn't make any sense. Let's reward the guys who deserve rewarding. The one's that fight fair, the one's that work hard, the one's that do the right thing and punish the guys that say the wrong things, who do the wrong things, that fight unfairly.
MB: Does this annoy you even more because you are someone who does the right thing?
TK: I get made fun of for being a Boy Scout in every aspect of my life. In how I do business, in how I fight, in how I train. Personally, yeah, I take offense to how a guy that's doing everything wrong is getting praised and getting the rewards while the guys that work hard and do all the right things are being ignored and walked on.