Kennedy Eager to Fight Lawler; Concerns Remain Over Future Opponents
By Kelsey Mowatt
Although Strikeforce recently announced that Tim Kennedy is getting his wish, a July 30th bout with Robbie Lawler, the middleweight contender isn’t celebrating wildly just yet. According to Kennedy, calling out Lawler was a necessary means to an end in his quest to rematch champion Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. The highly regarded jiu-jitsu competitor and mixed-martial-artist defeated Kennedy by unanimous decision last August.
“Besides “Jacare” the best guy in the 185lb.division of Strikeforce is Robbie,” Kennedy told FCF. “I lost a really close decision to “Jacare” but for whatever reason they’re not giving him to me, so I want the next best guy which is Robbie. I just want to fight the best guys. I don’t want to fight up-and-comers or nobodies.”
Kennedy last competed in March and took out one of Strikeforce’s more established names in Melvin Manhoef, by submitting the DREAM vet with a first round, rear-naked-choke. Afterwards, however, Kennedy says that finding him an opponent was an issue, and the 31 year-old-fighter’s frustration continued to grow.
“I’ve complained about not being able to get opponents and that’s been the case again,” Kennedy (13-3) noted, who will meet Lawler in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. “Robbie wasn’t the first name that I was given for who I was supposed to be fighting. I’ve been preparing for July 30th for a while, and it’s been a pain with the changing of opponents, but I’ll be ready.”
It wasn’t long ago that like Kennedy, former Strikeforce welterweight champ Nick Diaz was also voicing his concerns regarding future opponents, before he left the promotion to take a fight with UFC champion Georges St. Pierre. So, in light of Diaz’s departure and Zuffa’s recent purchase of Strikeforce, is there a list of possible Octagon match-ups that Kennedy has been surveying?
“There is, but I’ve had trouble finding opponents for a while now,” said Kennedy. “When I was in the IFL it was the same there; I don’t know what it is? I don’t know if I just suck? Or do I just smell bad? Do people not want to fight me? It’s not just that people don’t want to fight me; I just can’t get fights sometimes. It’s always been that way for me so I don’t know if that would change even if I was fighting in the UFC. No, I’m happy with how I’ve performed with Strikeforce and I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.”
When the Diaz, St. Pierre match-up was announced, it only furthered speculation as to what the future holds for Strikeforce, and whether it, like fellow Zuffa property the WEC, will eventually be incorporated into the larger UFC.
“They’re shrewd businessman; they put on fantastic shows and I think they put on a different product then the UFC,” said Kennedy when asked about the future of Strikeforce. “I know they’re going to keep pushing the envelope in how they set up big fights and what not, but I still think they’re going to be around for while.”
Of course, Kennedy’s immediate focus remains on Lawler, who is coming off a third round, submission loss to Souza in January. Prior to that, at Strikeforce’s “Henderson vs. Babalu 2” event in December, the feared slugger needed less than one minute to knock out veteran Matt Lindland. (Pictured: Kennedy submitting Manhoef)
“I think I’m a more technical striker than he is, but the way he puts people down is always traumatic,” said Kennedy while discussing Lawler’s (18-7) skill set. “He’s very dangerous. He’s unorthodox not only in his southpaw stance but in the way he throws punches; he’ll take one to give one.”
“I also know that he’s a very, very underrated wrestler,” Kennedy added. “If you watch his early fights he was a ground-and-pound guy…it’s not like you can just say “I’m going to take him to the ground”, it’s going to be a full on MMA fight.”
The July 30th “Fedor vs. Henderson” card will be hosted by the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Illinois and will feature a heavyweight bout between Fedor Emelianenko and Dan Henderson in the main event.