About a month ago we brought you news that bonafide badass Tim Kennedy was having a tough time finding an opponent in Strikeforce’s 185-pound division. Well, as of this writing Kennedy has been out of action nearly five months and with nothing yet scheduled he apparently got so fed up with waiting that this week he decided to say "fuck it" and start naming names. Dig this interview with MMAFA.tv, where Kennedy alleges that nearly every middleweight in Strikeforce has said “thanks, but no thanks” to a meeting in the cage with him during the last few months.
“It’s absolutely atrocious,” Kennedy says. “Strikeforce approached me for the December and January card. I said, ‘Definitely, just give me a name and I’ll take the fight.’ Benji Radach was the name, I said yes. Then they tell me he doesn’t want to fight me. Joey Villasenor was another name, but I understand him saying no because we trained at Jackson’s (team) together. Matt Lindland was another guy who said no. Robbie Lawler has turned me down three or maybe four times. They asked Melvin Manhoef to fight me and he said ‘(expletive) no.’ ”
Could it really be true that all the above mentioned guys turned down fights with Kennedy? Seems odd, since we wouldn’t imagine a guy like Radach would have the kind of political capital necessary to pick and choose his opponents in America’s second largest MMA promotion. We would’ve figured him for more of a “you’ll take whatever we give you and you’ll like it” kind of guy, unless he earned himself some sort of Get Out of Jail Free card from Scott Coker for stepping up to get squashed by Ovince St. Preux at light heavyweight last month. Same with Villasenor. You’d think these guys would just be happy to get a paycheck and would be pleased at the prospect of maybe fighting on TV, even if it is against a friend.
Lawler might have his reasons, since he’s currently set to fight Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza for the title, but we’re not sure we believe that he’s turned down the opportunity to fight Kennedy “three or maybe four times.” That does not sound like the Robbie Lawler we’ve come to know over the last 10 years. Previous to this we would’ve imagined that if you offered Lawler a fight with a 500-pound gorilla he’d just want to know how the gorilla’s ground game was, or if we thought the beast would stand up and fight him like a man.
In fact, the whole idea of guys turning down fights in Strikeforce is a little weird once you consider that given the shallow nature of the company’s middleweight division all these guys will eventually end up fighting each other if they stick around long enough. With the possible exception of Lindland, we guess, who doesn’t look like he should be fighting anyone, ever again, at least for the sake of his cognitive abilities. He’s going to need to preserve some capacity to reason and conceive of abstract thought if he’s going to keep talking Chael Sonnen’s way out of these messes he makes for himself, after all.
One name conspicuously absent from Kennedy’s list of call-outs is Jason "Mayhem" Miller. As you know, those two guys have history and with both seemingly in need of opponents for upcoming Strikeforce shows, well … Maybe that fight just makes too much sense for the company’s matchmakers. Whatever the case, Kennedy ain’t happy about all the down time.
“I’m super frustrated with it,” he says. “This is a pugilistic sport, is it not? It is the nature of the sport to fight each other, but nobody wants to fight me. Do I say, ‘Screw it, give me my uniform back, give me my long gun back and I’ll go back on the sniper range’? Or do I keep waiting these guys out until, in a battle of attrition, somebody gives up and says ‘Tim is the only guy who I can fight, so I’ll take that’?”
Like we said, we’d be surprised (shocked, even) if all these guys have legitimately said no to fights with Kennedy. If true, we’re not sure what to make of it, except that it seems like more evidence that Strikeforce is easily paralyzed by the whims of its athletes. Seriously, either the US Army green beret is the most feared man in the promotion, or he’s harboring a fairly significant persecution complex. One thing we know for sure about Kennedy: At this point he will not hesitate to put your name in the streets if he even suspects you might have turned down a bout with him.