("The first time I got shot at in a war … I knew I was in the right place," PicProps: CanvasChronicle)
There are both positives and negatives about this weekend’s Strikeforce middleweight title fight. On one hand, it obviously sucks that Saturday night’s scrap between BJJ whiz ‘Jacare’ Souza and all-around Awesome Dude Tim Kennedy essentially represents another epic fail by Strikeforce when it bungled plans for its totally-rad-sounding 185-pound title tournament. On the other hand, that this fight gives two seemingly very likable athletes their first chance at a major championship, well, it’s hard to hate on that.
Especially in the case of Kennedy, whose status as what the UFC might call “an elite war fighter” should be well-known to you. The active duty Green Beret not only appeared as the special guest on this week’s Bum Rush podcast (which makes him a prince among men, in our opinions) but he also cut a half-fascinating, half-bone-chilling new interview with Old Dad where he shed some more light on how his experiences “Over There” helped prepare him for a career inside the cage. Essentially, it was kind of like using a cannon ball to train for throwing the shot put.
People often say one of the great things about the fight game is that once the bell rings, it’s impossible to hide your true self. If you are a fighter, you fight. If you’re a cheater, you cheat. If you’re scared, you run. Turns out, Kennedy says the same thing is true of real combat. The picture our favorite Chisel-Faced Zombie paints of a young Kennedy is of a smart but disconnected kid who was still searching for his place in life until he found the special forces.
“The first time I got shot at in a war and everybody I was with did exactly the same thing I did, I knew I was in the right place," says Kennedy, describing one of his first days in Afghanistan, when a group of “insurgents” opened fire on his squad and instead of seeking cover, the Green Berets sprinted toward the shooting.
"I’ve been starved, beaten, waterboarded, and then interrogated, and that’s just training,” Kennedy says. “That’s just normal Special Forces training. That’s my life. So then you put me in a cage or a ring and expect me to quit? It’s not going to happen. You have to bring a lot more than that."
Nearly everybody who knows Kennedy describes him as well adjusted and fun-loving. The fighter himself is adamant about not having PTSD, even though some of the experiences he describes in this interview sound a little bit PTSD-ish. Still, when it comes to relating some of the more frightening parts of how his time as a soldier has affected his mental, you have to give Kennedy credit for being so honest.
"The first time I had a real post-traumatic stress dream – I don’t suffer from any depression or anything – but I came back from seeing some really traumatic things in war, like things with kids or women and blood and, you know, things happen," Kennedy says. "But I remember waking up in this cold sweat, freaking out. I called my buddy, and Special Forces is such a small, close-knit community that everyone knows everyone, and I told him, ‘Man, I just had this crazy dream.’ He was like, ‘Yeah, I had one of those the other day.’ Then we joke and laugh about it and it’s out there, it’s over. I don’t have to bury that stuff in me."
Even more startling are Kennedy’s accounts of being at Strikeforce: Los Angeles in June, where he defeated Trevor Prangley by rear naked choke in the first round. The fighter admitted to being a bit unnerved by the crowds and by people who rushed up to him in search of an autograph.
"My first instinct is, what’s this person doing?” Kennedy says. “Why are they running? Do they have a bomb on them? Then I’m like, ah, I’m in Los Angeles. At worst, they’re trying to steal my wallet. Then you relax. You remember where you are and it’s not a big deal."
Yeah, it’s pretty easy to see why climbing into the cage to fight just one other unarmed man is nothing to get worked up about for a dude like Kennedy.