Tim Kennedy has been wanting to fight Melvin Manhoef for a long time. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Tim Kennedy thought he was fighting Jason “Mayhem” Miller again. Then Luke Rockhold. Now Melvin Manhoef.
Although his opponent for the March 5 Strikeforce event in Columbus, Ohio, seems to keep changing, Kennedy likes the latest challenge.
“Melvin’s on a list of guys I’ve been wanting to fight in Strikeforce,” Kennedy said recently on the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show. “I couldn’t be more thrilled. He’s a great fighter. He’s really exciting. I love fighting guys that come to fight. My least favorite guys in all of MMA are the counterpunchers that like to ride out decisions. I want somebody that’s going to come right at me and actually wants to show up to fight, and that’s Melvin.”
Kennedy does not feel Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza wanted to fight in their Strikeforce middleweight title bout last August. Souza won a unanimous decision that left Kennedy infuriated.
“That fight was totally crap,” Kennedy said. “I sat there for 25 minutes and stalked the guy around the cage as he would peck me with the jab or throw an overhand right. Repeat for 25 minutes. That sucks. I, as a fan, would get bored with that fight. For crying out loud, come forward and fight me. You’re the greatest grappler on the planet. So I stuff you on a couple of takedowns, maybe try for a third one. If I take you down, maybe try to submit me. Don’t sit there and ride out a decision doing some fancy footwork for some so-called judges that are boxing judges. That’s stupid. If you’re going to win a title, come into the cage to fight.”
Kennedy acknowledged the fight was close, but he believes he deserved the decision. It’s a loss he wants to avenge as soon as possible. A win over Manhoef would likely put him right back in the title mix.
“I think this fight will put me really close,” Kennedy said. “I feel like I’m ready to get right back in there. I’m definitely chomping at the bit to.”
Manhoef is a dangerous striker with massive holes in his ground game. History suggests that Kennedy would be best served by taking the fight to the mat and looking for a submission. However, Kennedy said he is not interested in pursuing the safest strategy.
“I’m not that kind of fighter,” he explained. “I want to fight. I know everybody cares about who gets the W, but the fans want to see exciting fights. … Of course I like winning, but I like fighting. Fighting’s the essence of the sport, and that’s what people pay to see. If I’m going to take him down, I’m going to pick him up and I’m going to slam him. I’m not going to stay tight for a close submission. I want to knock him out. That’s what fans like seeing and that’s what I like delivering.”
Kennedy has a similar plan for Souza if he gets past Manhoef and they meet again.
“Instead of stalking him, I’m going to straight up just charge him,” Kennedy said. “I’m going to do exactly what I should have done, and that was just bring the fight, a five-round, crazy, ugly fight for a title, like it should be.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 49:35) with Kennedy, who also discussed Georges St. Pierre’s fights going the distance, Strikeforce matchmaking and more.