Tim Kennedy wanted a big fight if he was going to return to the UFC, and he got it in the form of Rashad Evans. Evans will be making his middleweight debut against Kennedy at UFC 205 in November, and while Kennedy has a lot of respect for Evans and has trained with him in the past, he also sees major holes in his current game.
Kennedy, 37, who hasn't competed since a disputed loss to Yoel Romero in November 2014, told The MMA Hour that the perfect storm of a former LHW champ in the grandest arena in the world led to his return. That, and a new divisional champion he happens to hold a win over (via MMA Fighting):
"I wouldn't have come back for anything less than anything gigantic, monumental, you know, like historic. And fighting Rashad who is a former champion, who is coming down to 185, that itself is a huge deal you know. Getting to fight Rashad at 185 for the first time in his career it's huge. That's almost a super fight, and then for it to be at Madison Square Garden, at the first event in New York, that's almost too good to pass up. And then, you pile on top of that, you know, Michael Bisping being the champion, a new company owning the UFC."
Evans and Kennedy have trained together in the past, so he was a bit surprised that Evans actually asked for the fight. He's not sure if it comes down to what Evans saw in those training sessions, but he believes that perceptions may be skewed. He was also quite frank in stating that Evans is not the same fighter he used to be:
"No, his chin has diminished. You know, he cant take the shots he used to. His wrestling, you know, Ryan Bader exposed that he hasn't been putting the work in. He knows I'm going to be moving forward as a wrestler, he knows I'm going to come forward with big heavy hands, so if there is a moment where he makes a mistake, I'm going to capitalize on it and hurt him. And if I touch his chin or put him on his back, he has a fight, and we're going to be in both of those positions. So no, he's not the same fighter he was when he knocked out Chuck Liddell. And I'm the same fighter if not better then I was 5 years ago, so November 12 is going to be tough fight for him."
Kennedy and Evans will tangle on the preliminary card of the stacked UFC 205 show in Madison Square Garden on November 12th.