Tim Kennedy hasn’t set foot inside the UFC Octagon since ending up on the receiving end of a controversial TKO loss to Yoel Romero back in 2014. After nearly getting KO’d in Round 2 of their fight, Romero was slow to return for round three, in part owing to his corner leaving the stool behind in the cage. The extra time was seen by many as a possible delay tactic, and proved a major distraction for Kennedy in the eventual loss.
In the aftermath of the fight, Kennedy stepped away from MMA and almost retired completely. Now however, he’s preparing for his return at UFC 205 where he’ll face former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans. And while it’s been more than two years in the making, to hear Kennedy tell it, this return may be short lived.
Kennedy recently spoke to Submission Radio (starting at 28:48) about where he’s at in his career and how important it is for him to be considered in title contention if he wins big this November:
“I thought there was a really good chance that I was never gonna come back to this sport,” Kennedy said, addressing his long hiatus. “I don’t need MMA, I love fighting. Those are very different things. The sport has changed how lucrative it is for an athlete. As a business owner, as a guy that is making big-budget movies now, that is in movies, that is on television, I do not need the sport. With that said, I love fighting. So I was inclined to move on. My family definitely, my manager, my agent were all thrilled at the prospect of not having to do a fight camp, not having to deal with all of the drama that goes along with fighting, you know, in this sport and with this promotion. So I think it was just all the things lined up perfectly for me to wanna get in there at least one more time.”
“There’s a really good chance that after this fight you’ll never see me again,” he continued, when asked about whether he’s looking to keep his MMA career going after UFC 205, “– well, in the octagon. I’m just getting started in my work outside of the octagon, where you’re gonna probably see me a lot more. But after November 12th, when I beat Rashad, if whoever the matchmaker is going to be in December for the 185 middleweight division, if they’re not talking about me being in the mix, about me as a potential match up against Michael Bisping for the title, then what’s the point? If I’m not gonna be in the mix for a title shot at this point in my career, where I have a win over the champion – what am I, like six and one in the last seven fights, with “knockout of the night”, “fight of the night” and my only loss was a super dumb controversial decision, I think we’ve got a lot of other things to do.”
As for just what being ‘in the mix’ means in today’s middleweight division? As Kennedy himself put it, “The division’s a mess, man. It’s a disaster. Its’ anybody’s chance to get that next title fight and everybody wants it because, especially for me, Michael Bisping is the easiest fight in the division.” Kennedy has a win over Bisping at the TUF Nations Finale back in April of 2014. But, with Jacare Souza vs. Luke Rockhold and Chris Weidman vs. Yoel Romero booked as well, it’s hard to see a win over Evans giving Kennedy a clear path to the belt.
UFC 205 goes down November 12th in New York City, New York at Madison Square Garden. The event will be headlined by a trio of title fights as Conor McGregor moves to lightweight to take on champion Eddie Alvarez, Tyron Woodley makes his first welterweight title defense against Stephen Thompson, and Joanna Jedrzejczyk puts the strawweight strap on the line against Karolina Kowalkiewicz.