On a night with four military veterans competing, only one would emerge victorious in the cage at Fort Campbell, Kentucky at UFC Fight for the Troops 3 (UFC Fight Night 31). UFC middleweight Tim Kennedy emerged victorious after a modest start in his bout with Rafael Natal in the main event on Wednesday night.
In the opening frame of the bout, Kennedy and Natal were content to pot shot one another from afar. There were no takedowns and no real clinches to speak of early. All of that changed, however, towards the end of the round.
Kennedy, pushing Natal back with his forward pressure, launched into a left hook that connected flush with Natal, sending the Brazilian crashing to the mat. The American followed up, but referee Herb Dean had seen enough and called a halt to the action as Natal essentially laid there taking an extra shot or two. The end came officially at 4:40 of the very first round.
"I'm 100 percent overwhelmed," Kennedy told UFC commentator Joe Rogan in his post-fight interview, which he used to speak to the soldiers in attendance. "Your guys' job is infinitely harder than anything I could ever do in here. I don't deserve to be here. I love you guys so much. You guys are my heroes. You guys are my idols. I'm a Christian. I give the glory to god, but I worship you guys. I love every one of you."
When asked about the bout itself, Kennedy then pushed credit to his coaching.
"Moments before I threw that left hook, I heard coach Wink and coach Brandon - we know that hook well, we trained it - they said, 'Tim, throw it! Tim, throw it! Tim, throw it!' and instinctively listening to my coaches I did what they want. Jackson-Winklejohn want finishes. I got the two best striking coaches," Kennedy said.
"This is what we do. We finish fights."
Kennedy jumps to 17-4 in professional mixed martial arts and Natal drops to 17-5-1.