Top-10 middleweight contender Tim Kennedy has not competed in a year and a half when he lost after a great deal of controversy and official mistakes to now number one contender Yoel Romero. He says he's improve by leaps and bounds in that time, but insists that he is too busy with other work to miss fighting in some desperate way.
"No. I like fighting. I love fighting. I make, like, three or four-times more when I don't fight than when I do fight. And, I'm one of the higher-paid guys in the UFC, which is remarkably tragic and pathetic. So, the work that I do on a normal, day-to-day basis is way more exciting than stepping into the Octagon," he said during a recent excellent interview with The Underground's Jonathan Shrager (above)
"You know, I will always have that, 'I want to be the best fighter on the planet' thing in me. So, I'll always have that desire to test myself against the best but it's not like this, 'do I miss it?' or is there that itch that you've got to scratch? The things I do, day-to-day, are vastly more intense and more fun than anything I'd ever do in the cage."
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Kennedy has stayed in the headlines since his last fight by criticizing fighters - like Romero, Vitor Belfort, and Anderson Silva - who have used banned performance-enhancing drugs, as well as by being a vocal advocate for fighters with regards to UFC pay and its new outfitting policies with Reebok.
For Kennedy, who owns his own apparel company who he is now disallowed from representing during fight weeks, the exclusive deal with Reebok - which fighters had no collective say in negotiating the terms of - hits real close to home. Kennedy also says that UFC officials like president Dana White have tried to intimidate him from speaking his mind, and that sits even less well with the special forces soldier and veteran of war.
"I got my hand slapped for talking about fighter pay. That was a big one. I had Dana White yell at me in front of, like, 20 other fighters. And, I'm sure you see how quiet I got about fighter pay," he said, the last part in jest.
"No. Still the same. Same thing about Reebok. Then, they ultimately tried to affect me in different ways - maybe not letting me fight. While they may not be able to shut me up, and maybe I'm not smart enough to shut up, myself, I'm still going to say what I'm going to say, and maybe that's why I'm still on the shelf."
Kennedy says he's similarly had the United States military attempt to suppress his speech. It didn't work then, so the fighter says that a huffing and puffing promoter certainly won't be anymore effective at getting him to shut up.
"I'm just honest. I just call it how I see it. I don't need anything from the UFC. I want to fight, so if there's anything I would want or need it would be to fight guys like Anderson Silva or Vitor Belfort or any other steroid-using Brazilian. So, that kind of makes them mad, sometimes. I get phone calls saying 'hey, shut your face.' And, like always, I'm like, 'dude, nothing has ever changed. I've been the same my entire career. I've been doing this, like, 14 years, now.' You're always going to get an honest, straightforward response from me. Honest to a fault," he continued.
"Sometimes they have to change the way they talk to me. For example, it happens on the military side as well. They were talking about changing some standards for Ranger school so when people attend Ranger school they are going to lower the standards so women could get through. And, I was very, very vocal about that. I was like, 'listen, I'm all for women being in combat.' I believe if a woman can meet the standards, she should be in there. But the worst thing you could possibly do is discredit and lower the standards of the unit to try and get them in."
The loyal serviceman respects chain of command, but refused to give in when high-ranking officials told him to keep his opinions to himself. "Well, after I said that I had generals and command star majors calling me. Like, 'hey man, don't say that.' I'm going to say what I want. And, if I'm going to say that to a general, I'm sure as hell going to say that, you know, runs a fight promotion," he explained.
"I'm not going to change for anybody. I want to fight but I'm sure as sh-t going to go, 'ok, I'll just not mention that we don't make any money, fighting, so I can get a fight.' That's counter-intuitive. That makes zero sense. You get what you pay for. You get honesty with me."