Michael Bisping vs. Tim Kennedy. Light vs. Dark. Redcoats vs. the colonies, he who shall not be named vs. Harry Potter. Great rivalries throughout history have taken a winding path to a final, culminating battle with Bisping/Kennedy being no different. It all started when Kennedy’s T-shirt company, Ranger Up, created some… Interesting videos about The Count, the feud spiraled out of control and led to a knee to Rivera’s head while downed. That, and Bisping spitting in the corner of Rivera didn’t help.
Brian Stann was up next. While he didn’t quite live up to the trash talking Rivera laid before him, the fight was intense, but another Ranger Up member fell. Now, here we are. Kennedy was in Strikeforce calling out Bisping while The Count scoffed and went about his business. But then the pieces fell into place. Strikeforce was purchased, Kennedy won multiple fights, and a whole new series of videos brought the flames of hatred to a new height.
Now, they fight. Tomorrow.
We were lucky enough to catch up with Tim Kennedy briefly to discuss this long-running feud.
Jason Nawara: Tim Kennedy vs. Bisping. I feel like this has been years in the making. Are you going to feel deflated when this is all done? A Luke without a Darth Vader?
Tim Kennedy: No, (laughs) I will always have something or somebody to fight for or against. The landscape changes but I’ll always have something to do.
JN: You brand Bisping as a dirty fighter in a cage fight and someone once said if you’re not cheating you’re not fighting.
TK: No because it’s a sport and we have athletic commissions. That’s against the rules. When you knee a downed opponent it’s against the rules. It’s not things I’m making or my opinion, it’s the rules and he can’t and doesn’t follow them.
JN: So is there a tit for tat type of situation, a win at all costs scenario that would lead you to grab his shorts or the cage in the fight?
TK: No. No. My integrity are always going to supersede a contest in a cage. It’s not life or death. It’s just a contest in a cage.
JN: It seems like this all stemmed mostly from the Jorge Rivera knee. Have you talked to Jorge recently about this fight? Any tips?
TK: I thought he and Brian Stann were both clear to me about being ready for him to grab the cage and the cage.
JN: Ah yes, so you’re the third Ranger Up fighter to fight Bisping. With that, is there more pressure on you?
TK: Nah, just a fight.
JN: You’re such a calm cool and collected guy… I fee like I already know the answer to this one… Are you going to be nervous?
TK: No, I’ve been in plenty of fights and this one is no different.
JN: How much longer does Tim Kennedy have in the tank?
TK: Unlike a lot of guys I don’t see a lot of damage when I fight. I’m always looking for the best way to train for a fight, so I think I can do this for a while. I’m not going to be Anderson and fight until I’m 43, but I definitely have the ability to fight for a long time.
JN: How is the Jackson camp treating you? It seems like they are back to a new all-time high over there.
TK: It ebbs and flows. There’s definitely a new, young, stable of fighters that will be breaking some records and scaring people like Travis Browne and John Dodson, they’re so good. It’s scary. We’ll see what happens. Jackson and Winklejohn are trying to make some changes to make the camp a better team. I really like the idea of those changes.
JN: What is changing?
TK: A lot of guys are coming with big fights so I can’t really see it yet, it’s a busy time.
JN: Do you think you would be the same fighter today had you not gone off and joined the military?
TK: I think so… You know, I think I would’ve been good at whatever I did, but being in the military honed and focused me as a person. I don’t know, I just don’t know. It’s all conjecture, I’m playing through in my head the 15,000 routes had I not joined the military. Too many possibilities.
JN: Michael Bisping can…
JN: I am better than Michael Bisping at…
JN: Michael Bisping is better than me at…
JN: Do you think an organization like Cobra will one day rise up, so then the military will then need to form the GI Joes with you as Duke?
TK: I can hope for nothing more. Nothing would make me happier and that would make my dreams come true.
JN: I’m glad that things are going well for you, Tim. It felt like a struggle to get you fights in Strikeforce.
TK: I fought 3 times last year, I’ve put myself in a position for some really good fights. Things are good here. I have a lot of potential opponents, dream opponents. Guys that I’ve always wanted to fight but couldn’t because I didn’t have the opportunity, but that’s not the case anymore. I’m a UFC fighter fighting in the best weight class in the world. A big win next week could change anything. This is what I want. I’ve been jockeying to be a ‘contenda’ for so long. I’ve got a lot of stuff going on, but fighting is the priority.
JN: Brian Stann is one of the best commentators in MMA right now, and you are equally well-spoken. Any chance they shove you in front of the camera?
TK: Yeah. Oh yeah, but fighting is the main focus right now. But yes.