The current state of affairs in Strikeforce has Tim Kennedy shaking his head in disbelief. As the No.1 contender to the middleweight crown, the biggest fight of his career is just a day away, and he's fairly certain the bout will not register on the mainstream MMA radar.
Kennedy has every right to be upset. He has worked tirelessly to work back to the top of the middleweight division. One of the weight class's scrappiest, Kennedy has made his name in the sport by making good fighters look bad by using his grinding style to break his opposition. It will be a tough task to execute against Rockhold, but Kennedy wouldn't have it any other way.
But when it comes to the topic of who will be watching, Kennedy didn't hesitate to speak his mind on the current situation surrounding the organization.
"We've been overlooked for a long time in Strikeforce and will continue to be overlooked," Kennedy told Bleacher Report in an exclusive interview. "Honestly if I win the championship on Saturday night it is not going to change anything for me. With my career, my family's wealth, or how the media and fans perceive me isn't going to really change. Which is tragic because I'm fighting an amazingly talented, underrated, super-tough guy.This fight is almost inconsequential to most MMA fans.
"There is nothing either Luke and I can do. We go out there and put on the fight of the year, five rounds of up and down action, slams, knockdowns -- Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar 2 and nobody will care."
The month of July has been a showcase of the sport's top middleweight fighters. While Rockhold vs. Kennedy is certainly one of the biggest matchups on this month's schedule, it isn't receiving the attention it deserves.
When talking about his fight with Rockhold this Saturday night, Kennedy promised their matchup will deliver where he feels the biggest fight in UFC history came up short.
"UFC 148 just happened with Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen," Kennedy said. "There were five minutes of Chael laying on him and two minutes of Anderson hitting Chael in the second round. It was pretty anti-climactic. The build-up didn't deliver and fans are going to see a fight between Luke and I. We are two men, completely in our athletic prime and we are going to put on a show. We are going to go out there and put on one of the best fights in MMA history.
"This isn't WWE. Luke and I don't have a problem with one another and we aren't bad mouthing each other. But we are going to step into the cage on Saturday night and try to knock each other's heads off. I don't have to have a beef with a guy to hit him hard. I don't need to put on a show to sell tickets. I need to go out and perform.
"Chael and Anderson did a great job of selling their fight but then they got into the cage and left a lot of people disappointed. It will be the opposite with us. We are going in there and we will put on one hell of a fight. I don't care what is said beforehand; once the cage doors closes and the referee says 'let's do this' there is going to be a fight. That's all I care about."
While Kennedy may be at a loss with the circumstances surrounding the bout, the fight itself has him fired up. Both men create interesting problems for one another inside of the cage, and Kennedy's focus isn't on championship gold, but testing himself against one of the best middleweights in the world.
"The belt is kind of irrelevant to me," Kennedy said. "I know that is anti-climactic but what matters to me is fighting the best guys in Strikeforce. Luke is the best guy in Strikeforce and that gets me excited. Even though he is underrated and people don't know how good he is, I know I'm fighting the best.
"Rockhold's range and timing is his best asset. He doesn't hit terribly hard, or at least it doesn't look like it. I've never been hit by him so I can't say for sure. His ability to use his length and height are tools he uses well. I'm not going to want to fight his fight and I'm not going to be within his range for any amount of time.
"He's a brown belt in jiu-jitsu under Dave Camarillo. Dave is someone I have a lot of respect for and he's cornered me in some of my fights. I have a lot of respect for Luke's jiu-jitsu and his takedown defense is one of the best in the sport. He's fantastic up against the cage and he's a great open mat wrestler. He has the ability to put the fight where he wants it. He has no problem with hitting a guy, running in there and then going to the ground with his opponent."
For the time being, Kennedy will drown out the other emotions to make sure his complete focus is fixed on the current middleweight champion. Kennedy understands what needs to be done in order to win and is prepared to give it his all inside of the cage.
"Of course I would love an easy fight where it is a one punch knockout, but it is not going to happen that way," Kennedy said. "I'm not going to let Luke fight the fight he wants to and it will be brutal and hard. It is definitely going to be one for the ages."
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