When Tim Kennedy
steps in against Melvin Manhoef
in Strikeforce this Saturday night, it will have been nearly seven months since his last fight -- a narrow decision loss against Strikeforce middleweight champ Ronaldo 'Jacare' Souza
If you ask Kennedy, seven months is much too long without somebody to punch in the face on live TV. And it's just possible, he's willing to admit now, that maybe he didn't handle the layoff all that well.
"I don't mean to use an inappropriate metaphor, but you know that guy who really wants to go home with a girl, and it's two o'clock in the morning and the bar's closing down and he's just going after everybody? He doesn't care what they look like or what they weigh, he's just up for anything? That's how I've been feeling about a fight," Kennedy told MMA Fighting. "Like, how about you? How about you? Just anybody."
He's still not entirely sure why it was so difficult to get an opponent and a date. Originally he'd hoped to get a rubber match with Jason "Mayhem" Miller
, and he'd heard that Miller was willing and able. When that fight failed to materialize, Kennedy started to get a little desperate for some action.
"I was asking my confidants like, should I just start talking smack about people? Should I go to Japan? Should I go to Brazil? I was that really creepy guy outside the bar being like, 'Hey, what are you doing later?' I just wanted to fight."
Ask long and loud enough, and ye shall receive. Eventually.
First Strikeforce booked him against Luke Rockhold, who is still relatively unknown to many MMA fans and who Kennedy admitted his management "wasn't exactly thrilled about." Because he wanted to get back in action as soon as possible, Kennedy took it. Then Rockhold pulled out with an injury, and in came the Dutch striker Manhoef, who's currently riding a two-fight losing streak.
"I'm not as thrilled as I was about Jason Miller," Kennedy said. "But it still has the potential to be an exciting fight."
What he's still wondering, however, is whether it has the potential to get him where he really wants to go, which is back in the cage with 'Jacare' for another go-round.
It shouldn't surprise anyone to hear that Kennedy still thinks he deserved to win the decision in that title fight, or that he's spent a lot of time thinking about a rematch.
"I've definitely moved on, but I'm competitive," said Kennedy. "It's like the other day, Wednesdays are my swim days. So I'm at Gold's Gym, jumping in the pool to do my laps, and lo and behold – and I don't mean this disrespectfully to women at all – but in walks this 65-year-old b-tch. Every Wednesday I see her and she gives me this long stare, like, 'Hey, I'm going to get in this pool and I'm going to smoke you.' She does this every week. Then she gets in the pool and she does it.
"She swims faster than me, and that gnaws at the very essence of my being. I want to drown her. Not literally, but figuratively. It really pisses me off. She swims longer than I do and faster than I do and I hate it. You can apply that to anything I do. I get really mad when somebody bests me, and I get even more mad when I don't think they really did."
While Manhoef may not exactly be a fighter whose star is on the rise at the moment, Kennedy's hope is to defeat him in a thrilling enough effort that Strikeforce officials might be motivated to shuffle him right back in for another fight with the champ.
"They know that's what I want and they know I'm chomping at the bit to get another five-round fight with Jacare," he said. "When I say chomping at the bit, I think [Strikeforce matchmaker] Rich [Chou] and [Strikeforce CEO] Scott [Coker] are now ignoring my emails. I'm like, 'Hey, if I knock out Melvin in spectacular fashion, maybe then?' I think I'm now blocked on their email lists."
Then again, trying to go head-hunting against a guy like Manhoef is a dangerous venture. His ground game may be lagging well behind most in the upper echelon of the sport, but he's still a buzz-saw on the feet, and he can still make you pay if you decide to stand in front of him.
Since Kennedy owes half his wins to submission finishes, wouldn't it be more prudent to seek the path of least resistance in Columbus, Ohio on Saturday night? Maybe, but there's smart and then there's fun, and they're not always compatible.
"I love beating guys at their own game. I loved picking up Jacare and slamming him and then watching him run from me like I'm the cursed Black Plague on the ground. I like doing the same thing to strikers. That puts a smile on my face."
If it means he has to accept some level of risk in order to make his point, Kennedy said, so be it. As long as it gets him where he wants to go in the end, he'll take it.
"I want to make this exciting and put a big exclamation mark in the guys' heads at Strikeforce so they're like, 'What else can we do with this Tim guy but put him back in a title fight?' Whether I do that by knocking Melvin out or picking him up and slamming on his head, it doesn't matter. But I am going to beat Melvin."
Once it's over, then the wait for a new opponent and a new date starts all over again. And Kennedy might do a lot of things well, but as we already know, waiting isn't one of them.