Tim Kennedy Talks Lyoto Machida Fight, Blasts Vitor Belfort and Dan Henderson

John Heinis@HeinisHardNewsSenior Analyst IAugust 24, 2013

Jul 6, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA;  Tim Kennedy during his Middleweight Bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

After weeks of asking and hoping for a big fight, former two-time Strikeforce title challenger Tim Kennedy got his wish late Wednesday night. 

The UFC tossed Kennedy a bone in the form of ex-light heavyweight champ Lyoto Machida, who will make his first cut to 185 pounds at UFC Fight for the Troops 3 in November (via MMA Fighting). 

Speaking with Bleacher Report on the phone, the 33-year-old used just about every phrase he could think of to say he was elated about the matchup. 

"I was super excited, totally pumped, thrilled, ecstatic, when I was told about the fight," Kennedy said about fighting a 15-fight UFC veteran and former titleholder in "The Dragon."

"I think he's always been a small light heavyweight, he should've been a middleweight a few years ago," he said about Machida's first scheduled scrap at 185 pounds.

"He should've come down to middleweight sooner, which I think is the natural weight for him. I have the expectation it will be the best Machida since he won the title."

Machida's days at light heavyweight have appeared limited ever since his one and only title defense, a controversial decision over former Pride star Mauricio Rua at UFC 104 in October 2009.

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

Since then, the karate-based striker has gone just 3-3, though most media outlets, fans and fighters alike believe he was robbed in a unanimous decision loss to Phil Davis at UFC 163 earlier this month. 

Kennedy is in the majority that he believes Machida should have been given the nod, though he wouldn't have been surprised to have seen the bout ruled a draw.

"I think Machida won, it was a close fight, but I appreciate the counter striking stuff," he stated.

"There’s a fine line between counter striking and back peddling, which he is guilty of sometimes. Carlos Condit does the best job of being the counter striking guy that is very elusive."

"Anyway, Phil was doing everything he should’ve been doing, but he should’ve been doing more of it. Lyoto landed more power strikes, more significant strikes, and Phil landed some takedowns but he didn't do anything after he got 'em. I don't know, you could argue neither guy did enough to win honestly."

The fact that his next fight takes place at a Fight for Troops event only makes Kennedy, a United States Army Sergeant First Class, that much more motivated to pull off the upset. 

"Right after my last fight, I was asking to be on that card. The groups I represent are the Green Beret Foundation, Rhino Den, Ranger Up and the  Wounded Warriors, so it's really cool to be on this card. Emotionally, I'm very invested, and I have to be since I'm fighting a legend who is a dangerous fighter."

While it all ended up working out in the end, Kennedy was unsure what would come of the UFC's middleweight logjam following his UFC 162 victory over Roger Gracie, as evidenced by this tweet from Sunday: 

I'm like the nerdy outcast of the middleweight division. Looking in wishing someone would ask me out. @vitorbelfort@wandfc@lyotomachidafw

— Tim Kennedy (@TimKennedyMMA) August 18, 2013

As Kennedy previously told Bleacher Report, he was hoping for a matchup with Pride legend Wanderlei Silva, who has been linked to a fight with Chael Sonnen. 

The latest snag in the fight negotiation is that "The Axe Murderer" wants pay-per-view points to fight Sonnen, something that UFC President Dana White doesn't seem willing to grant. 

However, if it were up to Kennedy, the Brazilian brawler would get his wish based on everything he has contributed to the sport of MMA. 

"I’m not surprised," Kennedy said about Wanderlei's latest request to make the Sonnen fight happen.

"It’s the twilight years of Wanderlei’s career, he's such a marquee fighter, a legend … will Chael probably beat him? Yea, but him and Fedor (Emelianenko) are the personification of that epic era, the prime beginnings of MMA. Chuck was in the UFC, they were over there (in Pride). I think he deserves everything he asks for."

A few weeks ago, Kennedy was linked to a fight with perennial 185-pound contender Vitor Belfort, but "The Phenom" decided he isn't fighting at middleweight unless the title is on the line (via Bloody Elbow).

The Texas native was unaware that Belfort has since been paired up with Dan Henderson for UFC Fight Night 32 on November 9 and he doesn't seem particularly thrilled about the matchmaking. 

"I wonder who is going to have higher testosterone levels during their fight camp?," Kennedy said about the veteran competitors, both of which have been using testosterone replacement therapy for years. 

"The real competition for those two is who is going to have the highest testosterone levels during the fight camp. Just take their testosterone levels from four weeks out, and that's the winner of the fight, no reason for these guys to even meet in the cage."

Needless to say, Kennedy is firmly against fighters that use TRT and/or performance-enhancing drugs, to the point where he doesn't believe TRT should be an approved treatment in MMA, taking a few more verbal shots at Belfort.

"If you have a guy who can only fight in a scenario where hes injecting synthetic testosterone into his body, he shouldn’t be fighting," he said in a straightforward manner.

"This is mixed martial arts, (which involves) integrity, legacy, discipline ... this is not Mark MaGwire baseball; he almost killed the sport of baseball. Somebody needs to come to grips this (TRT) is damaging the sport."

"His (Belfort) requirement to fight me was to fight me in Brazil. If I get a call to fight, I'm told its at this time, at this place and I accept. I don't go around being like 'well, I'm only going to fight so and so if we meet in Austin, Texas.' Fight clean, stop using steroids."

Kennedy did not speculate on the rumors that Belfort primarily fights in Brazil due to a failed drug test for steroids in October 2006, putting his TRT usage exemption in jeopardy anywhere in the states (via MMA Weekly).

However, he did sarcastically say "what a surprise" when he was informed Belfort vs. Henderson II was taking place in Brazil. 

As far as Machida goes, Kennedy feels there is potential for a great fight for the fans and the troops.

"I hope he comes to fight. I don’t want to chase the guy around for 15 minutes. That’s not the fight the fans want, the troops want," Kennedy explained. "If he comes and fights, we’re gonna put on a great show."

When told that Machida recently told MMA Fighting he was basically indifferent about the matchup with Kennedy, preferring Belfort or Sonnen instead, the 33-year-old wasn't offended in the slightest.

"I know I’m not a marque name and I'm looked past by most guys. (Machida) is an example of a true fighter to me: my hats off to Lyoto for being a real fighter and stepping up to the plate to fight me," he said, seemingly taking another shot at Belfort. 

Kennedy vs. Machida headlines UFC Fight for the Troops 3, which takes place in Fort Campbell, Kentucky on November 6. 

Follow Tim Kennedy on Twitter

John Heinis is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also the MMA Editor for eDraft.com.

slash iconYour sports. Delivered.

Enjoy our content? Join our newsletter to get the latest in sports news delivered straight to your inbox!