Tim Kennedy Announces Move to UFC, Thinks Chris Leben Would Be 'A Great Fight'

Scott HarrisMMA Lead WriterJanuary 17, 2013

Jan 12, 2013; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Tim Kennedy (black shorts) and Trevor Smith (cammo shorts) in their Strikeforce MMA Lightweight bout at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.  Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Middleweight Tim Kennedy has confirmed that his next fight will indeed take place in the UFC.

Kennedy made the announcement late Wednesday with a short but sweet tweet:


I am now in the UFC.

— Tim Kennedy (@TimKennedyMMA) January 17, 2013


The move, long expected, is the latest fighter emigration out of the defunct Strikeforce and into the UFC. Kennedy (15-4, 4-2 Strikeforce) is generally considered a top-20 middleweight. He has never fought in the UFC.

A U.S. Army Ranger who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, Kennedy's meat-and-potatoes style reflects both his military background and his famed coach, Greg Jackson. He uses his strength and a mistake-free if unostentatious approach to take his opponents down and pound them until he can sink in a choke, or the fight otherwise ends.

Kennedy twice fought for the Strikeforce middleweight belt, but lost both times. In 2010, he lost to Ronaldo Souza and last July was defeated by Luke Rockhold. He holds notable victories over Melvin Manhoef, Robbie Lawler and Jason "Mayhem" Miller.

In the final Strikeforce event Saturday night, Kennedy submitted Trevor Smith in the third round. 

Souza, Rockhold and many other Strikeforce fighters have or are expected to join Kennedy in the UFC. A good first opponent? Kennedy himself recently weighed in, again via Twitter


“@cropduster85: “@cripplerufc: Chris Leben vs @timkennedymma” I am a big Chris Leben fan, and he and I would put on a great fight.

— Tim Kennedy (@TimKennedyMMA) January 16, 2013


Leben (22-9) is on a two-fight losing streak, and in December lost his first bout back after serving a one-year drug suspension. (Interestingly, the loss came at the hands of an early Strikeforce transfer, Derek Brunson.) Nevertheless, Leben makes sense as a matchup because it pits two exciting, hard-hitting and popular middleweights against one another.