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Tim Kennedy says Rashad Evans has a 'diminished' chin, recalls their training at JacksonWink

If it wasn't for Michael Bisping wining the UFC middleweight title, Tim Kennedy may have never returned to MMA competition.

The 37-year-old fighter is resuming his MMA career to face Rashad Evans in a middleweight bout at UFC 205 in New York this November. Kennedy hasn't fought in two years, as the last time he set foot inside the octagon was against Yoel Romero at UFC 178, where he lost via technical knockout. Since then, Kennedy was discontent with the sport and stopped competing, but said he would be open for a comeback if the perfect opportunity presented itself.

And that opportunity came to fruition when Bisping, the man Kennedy defeated two years ago, became the UFC middleweight champion along with a few other factors.

"Michael Bisping winning the title that was a contributing factor," Kennedy told Ariel Helwani on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "I love fighting, and even when I'm 65 and I'll have not been fighting for 25, 30 years, I'll still miss it, you know, like, ‘Man, look at that young buck. I kind of want to beat him up a little bit'. And that's probably going to be in there forever.

Whenever I see a plane that flies over Iraq or Afghanistan and my friends are on it, I'm sad I'm not on it. There is that aspect or that element that's in us that makes us want to be part of those things that's never going to die in me. So you know, seeing Michael Bisping win the title I was like, ‘No way I can let that guy be the champion or remain the champion, which he wouldn't if I fought him. That's obvious'. And the will and desire to get back in there and see how I do as an athlete."

But Bisping wining the UFC title was only half of the equation for Kennedy, as he was only willing to return to MMA for a gigantic fight.

"I wouldn't have come back for anything less than anything gigantic, monumental, you know, like historic," Kennedy said. "And fighting Rashad who is a former champion, who is coming down to 185, that itself is a huge deal you know. Getting to fight Rashad at 185 for the first time in his career it's huge. That's almost a super fight, and then for it to be at Madison Square Garden, at the first event in New York, that's almost too good to pass up. And then, you pile on top of that, you know, Michael Bisping being the champion, a new company owning the UFC.

Kennedy and Evans are no strangers, as Evans, who now train at the Blackzillians, used train at JacksonWink where Kennedy currently trains.

"I did quite [train with Evans] a bit," Kennedy said. "When he was getting ready, I don't remember what fight it was, I flew to Albuquerque specifically to help him get ready for a fight. And you know, he was probably fighting some wrestler grinding, some blue-collar-hard-nose-idiot type dude, so I came in to get him ready for that, so that was one of the reasons I was surprised he asked to fight me."

"I was surprised. A lot of weird perceptions happened in a training room and I think he perceived, when I was in there as a training partner, as the best version of me as a fighter. I'm not calling him a selfish person, but I don't think he appreciated how much sacrifice and selflessness I was putting in there for him, you know. Like, I was there to help him get ready and that's a different thing than me being an alpha dog trying o show him what I am as a fighter. And I don't know If he appreciated the difference between the two."

Kennedy said that it was Evans who asked to fight him, and says that it wasn't him trying to fight Evans in the 'twilight' years of his career. Kennedy believes the Evans who was once a UFC champion is no longer present, and says November 12 will be tough night for the former champion.

"No, his chin has diminished," Kennedy said. "You know, he cant take the shots he used to. His wrestling, you know, Ryan Bader exposed that he hasn't been putting the work in. He knows I'm going to be moving forward as a wrestler, he knows I'm going to come forward with big heavy hands, so if there is a moment where he makes a mistake, I'm going to capitalize on it and hurt him. And if I touch his chin or put him on his back, he has a fight, and we're going to be in both of those positions. So no, he's not the same fighter he was when he knocked out Chuck Liddell. And I'm the same fighter if not better then I was 5 years ago, so November 12 is going to be tough fight for him."