(Kennedy vs. Natal finish, via YouTube.com/FoxSports)
Despite the enthusiastic and supportive Fort Campbell crowd, last night’s Fight for the Troops 3 event began with some bitter defeats for the handful of UFC fighters with military backgrounds. Army Staff Sgt./TUF 16 winner Colton Smith kicked off the main card by tapping to a rear-naked choke from TUF 15 winner Michael Chiesa — which earned Chiesa a $50,000 Submission of the Night bonus — while former Marine Liz Carmouche ate her second UFC defeat in a decision loss to Alexis Davis.
Luckily, Tim Kennedy saved the operation. The Special Forces vet fed off the energy in the room and tagged Rafael Natal with a long left hook that put the Brazilian’s lights out near the end of round 1, and won Kennedy a $50,000 Knockout of the Night bump. As he explained after the fight:
“I had to wait for the crowd to stop cheering because I was afraid to emotionally commit to something and not do it for the right reasons,” he said. “They’re screaming, ‘Ranger up! Ranger up!’ And I want to start throwing overhands and blitz the guy. I was waiting for them to stop, and they didn’t stop. Then they started cheering ‘U-S-A!,’ and ‘Kennedy!,’ and I was like, ‘For the love of God.’
“It had a negative effect on me because I was waiting and apprehensive. If there was any amount of pressure that could be put on a single fighter for a fight, I can’t think of a situation that would be more stressful than this.”
By the way, Kennedy tore his quad in the last week of training camp, but as he told Ariel Helwani later, “There’s no way you’re getting me off this card. They would have had to shoot me. If they had to roll me up with a wheelchair, I would have got in that cage, I didn’t care.”
Check out video of Kennedy’s knockout above, check out full results from the fight card right here, and follow us after the jump for lots more UFC Fight for the Troops 3 video highlights…