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Tim Kennedy: ‘Smaller and fatter’ Vitor Belfort has 'no chance without his magic juice’

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

LAS VEGAS -- Tim Kennedy is fighting in two days and hasn't been drug tested. This is a problem for Tim Kennedy, because as he'll be the first to tell you, Tim Kennedy could be pumped full of steroids this very second and you'd be none the wiser.

But that's not to suggest Kennedy has aired his concern purely for public consumption. On several occasions he's even attempted to cut out the middleman and call the Nevada Athletic Commission directly, informing them that he'd really, really enjoy it if they could send a stiff little inspector down to Greg Jackson's, find the swashbuckling middleweight, open up a briefcase, and request a few dabs of urine. (Just a few. Kennedy isn't trying to get greedy.)

Kennedy only asks this because it seems like the right thing to do, though it doesn't exactly hurt that an unsettling number of random drug tests these days seem to end within that ominous Grant Sawyer boardroom, with our old pals Brady, Marnell and Aguilar handing down some form of penance between praises of Floyd Mayweather's latest recipe for mozzarella chicken parm.

But alas, Kennedy has been rebuffed at every turn. And the curious thing is, the more he talks about it, the more his onlooking public seems to roll its collective eyes at the subject -- ‘there goes old man Kennedy again, raving about steroids.'

It's frustrating, he admits, but hey, "they're not the ones getting hit in the head."

"Have one of those people bitching about it go fight somebody who's on performance enhancing drugs and have their shin put up against their head," Kennedy says. "Spinning heel kick them. It's a bunch of people behind a keyboard complaining about performance enhancing drugs and why we shouldn't be whining about it. This isn't baseball. We're not hitting balls out of a park. We're not kicking a soccer ball, we're not riding a bicycle. We're trying to knock each other out. It changes the use of PEDs a little bit."

By now, Kennedy is resigned to his UFC 178 wishes falling on deaf ears, though that hasn't helped to curb his disappointment.

On Saturday, Kennedy will fight Yoel Romero, an Adonis of a man who, at age 37, is still riding high in (or around) his athletic prime. For all intents and purposes, the winner of the contest is, at most, one fight away from a middleweight title shot, so the stakes here are real and more than a little palpable.

To be sure, Kennedy isn't accusing Romero of any foul play. In fact, he kind of likes the guy. Romero has been nothing if not pleasant all week, plus such charges would be unfair at best, irresponsible at worst. Nonetheless Kennedy is acutely aware of what's going on around him -- how the increased frequency of outed cheaters continues to rise alongside the increased frequency of random testing, and how the naivety of a vocal few continues to dupe others into believing the sport of mixed martial arts is a clean one.

It may be cleaner, but we're still getting there.

And that leads Kennedy to the subject of Vitor Belfort, the 37-year-old Brazilian phenom who defied both age and logic to rebuild his body into bronzed carving majestic enough to make Hercules blush. Belfort, his veins pulsing and muscles bulging, strung together three of the more violent knockouts of 2013, starred in the most predictable drug test failure of 2014, then was awarded a title shot in 2015, because hey, why not?

"Smaller and fatter" is how Kennedy now describes Belfort, now that the Brazilian is expected to be kept under the strict eye of the NAC.

"Guess what? Steroids work. They do," says Kennedy. "You want to look like Vitor did two years ago? Use steroids. You want to perform like he did? Use steroids. They're amazing. If you want to look like how Vitor looks now, don't use steroids and then try to compete against guys like us that work hard."

When it comes to middleweight's foremost enigma, Kennedy obviously isn't a fan. And as he notes, plenty of time rests between now and early-2015, when Belfort and UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman are tentatively slated to tangle. So given that concern continues to frame the fight, with its thick wall of fog and TRT ghosts, Kennedy plans to take a page from the Ronaldo Souza playbook moving forward.

If he can leave Las Vegas a tad richer and a few rungs higher up the ladder by Sunday, the American hopes to take a month off, then launch into another fight camp... just in case the UFC has need of a back-up plan come New Year's Day.

And truth be told, Kennedy likes his odds.

"30-percent chance [Belfort] doesn't show up. 45-percent chance that he tests positive or gets hurt. So, 25-percent chance he shows up on fight night," predicts Kennedy.

"If he makes it, that means he hasn't been using because he'll get tested, and he'll get murdered. If he doesn't make it, it's because he realized that he has no chance without his magic juice."

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