Next month will mark the one-year anniversary of Tim Kennedy’s last fight in the UFC, which came at UFC 178 against Yoel Romero. That bout -- which ended in a controversial third-round TKO after a sequence in which Kennedy thought he won to end the second -- left a bad taste in his mouth.
During an appearance on The MMA Hour shortly after the Romero loss last fall, Kennedy expressed his dissatisfaction with not only that fight, but also with the business side of MMA. Despondent at the time, he flirted with the idea of retirement.
A year later Kennedy is now flirting with the idea of returning to the octagon. Fresh off a plane from Brazil after a tour of South and Central America, Kennedy once again appeared on the MMA Hour and updated is status.
"Where am I, I’m ranked like seventh or eighth right now?" he told Ariel Helwani. "So I’ve only slipped a spot, which his crazy because there are five guys above me who I would murder, or smash. I have been calling out every single middleweight that has fought, that is ranked in the top ten, in the last six months. Or every marquee name.
"I guess how matchmaking works now is you just find two dudes that previously used steroids or testosterone and then you just make them fight each other because they’re going to lose to everybody else now that they’re off of it."
Kennedy has been out of the country filming a new reality show which will air on History Channel in October. He said he is an investigator/special ops guy who hunts old war criminals, using "current technology to solve historical problems." After filming eight shows, he is now preparing for a role in a movie, which films in October. After that, he says he is open to getting a fight.
Even if some of the things that bothered him about the current state of the UFC are still somewhat bothersome to him.
Kennedy has been vocal about stricter anti-doping policies and more extensive testing. Since he last fought the UFC has brought in the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) to work as an independent third-party in conducting out-of-competition tests for the entirety of the UFC’s roster.
Though Kennedy said on the surface the efforts look good, that there’s still some gray areas to address. One of the areas that has perhaps swayed him from returning is the UFC’s sponsorship deal with Reebok. Kennedy talked used this past weekend’s UFC Fight Night 73 in Nashville as an example of how fighters are losing out on endorsement money.
"My disenchantment has come from the business side of it," he said. "The reffing, the sponsorship. Where the sport is now is horrible and tragic and pathetic. Glover [Teixeira] just fought [Ovince Saint Preux], and the entire Reebok payout was like $100,000 or something. [That’s] everyone, every single athlete from the entire card that night. I made more in sponsorship in Strikeforce than every single athlete on the card that night. In one fight. So me versus Luke Rockhold, or me versus Jacare [Souza], or hell, even my last fight. My last fight in Strikeforce [against Trevor Smith], I made more than every single UFC athlete, to include Glover who just fought for the title against Jon Jones, cumulatively. And if that doesn’t blow your mind and say what is wrong with this sport, then…"
Asked if that would preclude him from returning, Kennedy pointed out that things are going pretty well for him outside of the fight game.
"That’s a major contributing factor," he said. "It’s not any one thing. I’m loving life right now and I’m having so much fun. Scuba diving, skydiving, hunting, finding poachers, finding war criminals, hanging out with my infant son, making out with my hot wife. My life is awesome. Motorcycles, big ol’ snakes, Everglades of Florida, pig hunting in Louisiana, this is good stuff. So Joe Silva has a task of finding something interesting, especially with the circumstances surrounding the UFC as a promotion."
Before he was cast on the new reality show, Kennedy had thrown down an ultimatum fight with former light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida. He proposed a loser leaves town fight, meaning whoever lost should retire from fighting forever.
Kennedy has since called out numerous other high-profile fighters, and to this day he says he’d still like to fight Vitor Belfort. He said his management team went to International Fight Week in Las Vegas in July to gauge interest and timing for booking a fight.
As a resident of Austin, Texas, Kennedy even pointed out that the UFC is looking to come to Dallas in December, and he even had an opponent in mind.
"There’s a big fight card in Dallas. That’s two hours away. Anderson Silva, No. 2 middleweight, versus Tim Kennedy, No. 7 middleweight."
When reminded that Silva had a hearing this Thursday with the Nevada Athletic Commission to address his failed drug tests from back at UFC 183, Kennedy joked that the former middleweight champ could share his DNA.
"He can have my blood," he said. "[Silva] can just inject himself with my blood from this point forward and he’ll be good. And then we’ll fight in Dallas. That would be awesome. That would be the perfect…Tim would get off the couch for Anderson Silva in Dallas."
In any case, the 35-year old veteran said his love for the sport has never waned.
"I’m never done fighting. My love for fighting is absolutely 100 percent still there. I think my indifference for the sport has nothing to do with the sport. I still love the sport. I still love mixed martial arts, I still love fighting. I’m always going to be a martial artist. My dad…they put me in martial arts when I was stupid small. This is going to be until back to the age when I can’t walk again. This hasn’t changed anything."