Tim Kennedy: I’m going to have to trade with Robbie Lawler (Exclusive Interview)

5986075276 502d52197bSaturday June 30th, 2011 will be a very important date in the history of Mixed Martial Arts. Legends of the sport, Fedor Emelianenko will be facing Dan Henderson in the six-sided cage. But before we see the epic main event, Strikeforce has booked a stacked card with the third fight of the night potentially having middleweight title shot implications. For a chance at facing the winner of Ronaldo Souza and Luke Rockhold, Tim Kennedy will be squaring off against the heavy handed “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler.

The decorated military man last fought on March 5th with a big victory over K-1 caliber striker Melvin Manhoef.  A win for the Green Beret will bring him one step closer to a possible rematch with Jacare or against the young up and comer in Luke Rockhold. I had a chance to speak Tim regarding his upcoming fight and a wide variety of topics. From possibly fighting in the UFC to gourmet cooking and receiving his black belt in modern army combatives, top-ranked middleweight Tim Kennedy takes a few minutes out of his day to address the Lowkick Nation.

You’re fresh off your March 5th victory over Melvin Manhoef. You are no stranger to fighting really good strikers. Will your gameplan against Robbie Lawler be similar?
I think the key really is the inconsistency and the unpredictability of my movement. I’m going to have to trade with him. He is too good of a wrestler for me just to do what I did to Melvin, which was shoot from the outside. If I just shoot from the outside, I’m going to get stopped all night. I have to do damage, I have to punch with him, but I gotta make it unpredictable. That way I can get inside, that way I can do damage, so we can go to the ground. These are things that have to happen in this fight.

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With a win over Lawler, how close do you think you are to another crack at the Strikeforce middleweight strap? I’m sure a rematch with Jacare Souza sounds very appealing, but before that could happen he has to get through Luke Rockhold in September. Do you have any preference?
No, I just want to fight the best guys. I don’t look back, I only look forward. I know the fight with Jacare was close, it was controversial. It was a close fight, but I don’t care, I just want to fight the best.  I think Robbie’s the next best guy, if I can beat him; I want to move on to the next guy. I don’t know if UFC guys will be coming over, me going over there, or me fighting the Strikeforce champion I don’t care. I just want to fight the best.

With the recent developments regarding your sponsor Ranger Up and ZUFFA, do you still plan on wearing a pair of blank shorts and a blank t-shirt for your fight this weekend?
I’ll definitely be wearing a blank shirt. Ranger Up has been so good to me, has nothing to do with ZUFFA, or me being vengeful. It just has everything to do with me being faithful to my longest running sponsor ever. So ya I’ll be wearing a blank shirt, my shorts will be totally blank except for my branch of service logo which is the National Guard. I’ll be proudly wearing my military branch.  

Speaking of ZUFFA, do you have ambitions of moving from the six-sided cage to the UFC’s octagon anytime soon?
To me it’s not moving up, it’s just moving. Like I said, I just want to fight the best. Whether or not that’s in the UFC or Strikeforce it doesn’t matter to me. I just want to fight the good guys.

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I read a very interesting piece from my friend Matthew Roth at bloodyelbow.com. You’ve recently received your combatives black belt during a ceremony at the All-Army Combatives tournament in Fort Hood. For our readers who are not very familiar with the combatives black belt, how significant is it to receive such an honor?
It was a huge honor to be one of the first people to receive a black belt in modern army combatives. They’re going to put out the guidelines for what will be required to receive your black belt. Essentially you’re going to have to have at least ten years of martial arts experience; you’re going to have to be proficient as a level four modern army combatives instructor. You’ll have to have won the combatives tournament; I won the All-Army Combatives three times. I had two guys standing next to me during the ceremony, Andrew Chappelle and Demian Stelly. It’s very humbling to stand next to guys as achieved as they are in combatives. It was truly wonderful getting my black belt.

I’ve read your recipe column numerous times on middleeasy.com. Every time I see it I just get really hungry and I want to try your creations myself. How did you become such a great gourmet cook and when your career is over do you see yourself owning your own restaurant one day?
I definitely see myself owning a restaurant one day! I’m so hungry right now; you know I’ve been cutting weight for this upcoming fight. My mom put me in culinary arts classes growing up; I’ve always been interested in it. Also being a Special Forces guy, being a rookie for many different team rooms, it’s always been expected that I’d cook for a whole bunch of dudes. I’ve always loved cooking, I’m basically a fat kid trapped inside an athlete’s body. I basically cook for me, because I just love food.

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You’ve unselfishly fought & defended your country, we’ve already touched on your cooking abilities, you’re an accomplished professional fighter, been featured in EA Sports MMA, and make entertaining Youtube videos. Is there anything that you haven’t done yet, that you would like to add to this growing resume?
Ya man, I want to win a whole bunch of long range shooting competitions within the military. I’ve competed in a few of them; I won a lot of the events. I kind of want to be known as one of the best long range shooters on the planet. That’s something I’d love to do one day, just don’t have the time at the moment.

Thank you for your time Tim and all the best against Robbie Lawler. Would you like to make some shoutouts before we close?
First of all the fans, thank you for all the support and watching the fights! It’s the most important thing; you guys make this sport happen. Soldiers thank you for your service and I appreciate it. I wish I was there with you guys right now. My sponsors Ranger Up, Fahrenheit Nutrition, and the National Guard. You guys are paying my bills so I can train, I couldn’t do it without you.

Photo from Alchemist Management