Posts Tagged ‘Strikeforce’
Tim Kennedy is the most dangerous man in the world.
While Ranger Up’s ad campaign might capitalize on his background in a light-hearted manner, Kennedy has more than earned the right to that label.
After all, in addition to destroying his enemies inside the cage, the Strikeforce middleweight contender spent several years of his mixed martial arts career also conquering a much deadlier battlefield as a Green Beret in the United States Army.
“Every second that I’m working as a SF operator (I’m) 100 percent focused,” Kennedy told Joe Rizzo and Jeremy Fullerton on Rear Naked Choke Radio on the MMA DieHards Radio Network. “That doesn’t change when I come to MMA. The environment is different. The end result is different – thank god that nobody is going to be dying on Saturday night. But I still approach this with total focus, total discipline and prepared to go.”
Kennedy’s professional fighting career is almost nine years old, but his full-time military duties prevented him from achieving greater recognition and getting the really big fights, until now.
MMA fans got their first real glimpse of Kennedy’s talent in the now-defunct IFL, where he picked up wins over Dante Rivera, Ryan McGivern and Elias Rivera. Following more than a year away from the sport brought on by his military commitments, Kennedy roared back onto the scene with a set of victories on Strikeforce’s Challengers series, which ultimately led to his promotion to the organization’s bigger events.
He made the most of the opportunity, submitting Trevor Prangley in the first round of their bout at “Strikeforce: Los Angeles” in June. The win put Kennedy near the top of the list of contenders in Strikeforce’s 185-pound division.
Following the defection of then Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields to the UFC, Strikeforce considered a number of options to crown a new champ and finally settled on a matchup pitting Kennedy against Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza for the vacant belt.
“I’m disappointed not to be fighting a defending, legitimate champion,” Kennedy said of the letdown at not getting to face his former Pit teammate for the title. “But, at the same time, I’m fighting Jacare and that’s going to be an exciting fight. I’m fighting for the championship. Everything considered, this really is the best case scenario.”
Kennedy and Souza will square off at “Strikeforce: Houston” on Aug. 21. While the title is important to him, the bigger thrill for the former soldier is the challenge of fighting a skilled opponent.
“I fight for me,” Kennedy said on the show. “I don’t care about the championship, the venue, the promotion. All I care about is the guy. I’m just excited to be fighting a really good guy.
“(Souza) just knows I’m going to be bringing a five round fight to him,” Kennedy added. “I hope he’s prepared.”
Kennedy will definitely come prepared.
The three-time Army Combatives champion started training in mixed martial arts long before entering the service. His roots lie in San Luis Obispo, where he trained at The Pit alongside Chuck Liddell and former Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields.
These days however, Kennedy is branching out. He still trains at The Pit, but it’s just one stop on a tour of camps that also includes visits to Greg Jackson’s in Albuquerque and the Competitive Training Center in Kennedy’s current hometown of Austin, Texas.
“That’s really what you have to do in MMA right now,” Kennedy said. “Get out there and get with other guys from other schools that are training. Every school has the things that they’re good at. You got to get out there and get that – that thing, whatever that is, from that school. Greg (Jackson) is really good at a whole bunch of stuff. Everybody at The Pit is really good at a whole bunch of stuff.”
“Now I’m just trying to go out there and steal all the best things to make myself a better fighter.”
And what was the best thing he stole?
“I’m going to use it Saturday night,” Kennedy claims.
Apparently, the most dangerous man in the world now has a secret weapon.
With a pair of belts on the line, Strikeforce’s Houston event is an easy win for Showtime.
Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal defends his light-heavyweight title against Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante. The middleweight belt vacated when Jake Shields bolted for the UFC will be handed out to the winner of the match between Tim Kennedy and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza.
The event starts its Showtime broadcast Saturday at 10 p.m. Eastern (delayed on the West Coast), with a pair of fights streaming live on Sherdog.com prior to that. If you’re near the Houston area and want to catch all the action, it’s at the Toyota Center.
Lawal is 7-0 and makes the first defense of the title he won from Gegard Mousasi when he meets Feijao (9-2), who is coming off a pair of TKO victories, against Aaron Rosa and Antwain Britt. Those followed a shocking loss to Mike Kyle, against whom Feijao was heavily favored. Feijao’s only other loss was via disqualification for illegally kicking Marcio Cruz in an IFL match in 2007.
“I saw Mo’s last fight and I know he’s good at everything, well rounded,” Feijao said. “I knew I had to train for everything for Mo. I think there will be a lot of surprises in this fight. I think Mo has a lot of things to show on Saturday, but so do I.”
In Lawal, Feijao is facing a big step up in opponent. Despite a more brief career in MMA, Lawal is an Olympic-level wrestler with an encyclopedic knowledge of other fighters and their styles. Lawal already has wins over notables Travis Wiuff, Mark Kerr, Mike Whitehead and Mousasi. He has finished five of his fights, all via TKO, and uses his trememdous wrestling to set up all aspect of his game.
“Feijao has been around for a while, he’s a tough fighter,” Lawal said. “He’s experienced and I’m still young in the game. He’s a seasoned vet who is tough and hungry. That’s why I’m the underdog, that’s why I’m not going to take him lightly.”
Kennedy (12-2) gets more accolades for his Army career as a special forces Green Beret than he does for his outstanding MMA skills. A powerhouse who squeezes down to the 185-pound middleweight threshold, Kennedy is an outstanding wrestler with strong submissions, but he loves to strike with his hands and feet.
Kennedy’s two losses both involved cuts – one directly and one not. He fell to Scott Smith in 2001 in his first career fight, which was stopped because of a gash. His other loss came in 2007 against Jason “Mayhem” Miller, when Kennedy suffered a slide across his nose but went the distance in a decision loss. Miller is the only fighter to take Kennedy the distance, having done it in losing their first match in 2003, when Kennedy won.
“I’ve brought in some of the best guys I could get my hands on in Brazilian jiu jitsu,” said Kennedy, a guest of Rear Naked Choke Radio on the MMA DieHards Radio Network on Wednesday. “My fight camp in the last few months has been getting ready for Jacare, who’s one of the best grapplers in MMA history. I’ve done nothing but prepare for Jacare and this fight. It’s been 10 months since I’ve been fighting full time and it’s been awesome. I’m stronger and faster than I’ve ever been.”
Jacare (12-2, 1 NC) has his own rivalry with Miller, whom he beat once and then had the rematch ruled no contest after a cut from an illegal kick. After losing his pro debut in 2003, Jacare ran off 10 straight wins before falling to Mousasi in the Dream.6 Middleweight Grand Prix final. He followed that with the Miller no-contest, then triangled Matt Lindland and survived a three-round war with Joey Villasenor.
“He is a great wrestler, great ground and pound and a strong opponent,” Jacare said of Kennedy. “The belt deserves a good fight, a battle. I know Tim and I are going to fight hard for that title.”
Elsewhere on the Showtime card, K.J. Noons (9-2) meets Jorge Gurgel (13-6) in a lightweight battle and former professional wrestler Bobby Lashley (5-) meets Chad Griggs (8-1) in a heavyweight tilt.
Noons doubles as a professional boxer, so in his MMA fights he is usually expecting his opponent to be diligent on takedown attempts. But Gurgel, despie being a Brazilian jiu jitsu blackbelt, relishes the stand-up game. It has led to many exciting three-round slugfests throughout a distinguished career for the TUF 2 veteran that included a seven-fight stint in the UFC. Gurgel’s girlfriend Zoila Frausto, on Thursday won her opening-round fight in Bellator’s 115-pound tournament.
Noons has a five-fight winning steak in MMA and has the most recent win over Nick Diaz, who is the Strikeforce welterweight champion.
Lashley wrestled at Missouri Valley College before heading to the WWE and TNA. In MMA he faces his toughest test in Griggs, a firefighter from Tucson, Ariz., a former IFL fighter who has finished all eight of his wins, including seven by TKO, and has never gone the distance. His only loss was to Shane Ott, who came, like Lashley, brought a wrestling background.
On Sherdog.com, former Olympian Daniel Cormier fights for the third time in as many weeks when he takes on Jason Riley in a heavyweight match, and welterweights Andre Galvao and Jorge “Macaco” Patino meet. Cormier and Lawal are best friends and act as one another’s main training partner.
On the undercard, Vinicius Magalhaes and Rocky Long meet at featherweight. At lightweight, Kier Gooch takes on Adam Schindler, and Jose Santibanez faces Reynaldo Trujillo. Humberto DeLeon and Chad Robichaux face off at a 130-pound catchweight, and Chad Cook meets Arteneus Young at light heavyweight.
Jason David “Fearless” Frank and Patrick “Bam Bam” Hutton bring you the Fearless Frank and Bam Bam Show on the MMA DieHards Radio Network. Jason and Patrick welcome in WEC 50 winner Bart Palaszewski, Mike “The Greek” Bronzoulis and Roxanne Adams.
Bart earned a TKO over Zach Micklewright in the second round of the card’s initial televised fight.
The Greek is originally from New York, now trains in Houston and is a budding reality TV star. He beat Anselmo Martinez at Shark Fights 12 in June to move to 8-2-1, with the draw coming against WEC standout Kamal Shalorus.
Roxanne trains with Jason in Houston and just won her professional debut on the same card on which Jason won his first professional fight on Aug. 4.
Live Video streaming by Ustream
American hero Tim Kennedy is fighting for the Strikeforce middleweight title on Saturday in Houston. But before that, he took time for Rear Naked Choke Radio on the MMA DieHards Radio Network with Joe Rizzo and Jeremy Fullerton.
Also, the colorful Matt Horwich returned to the show to talk spirituality and quantum physics. Matt just won the Powerhouse World Promotions’ “War on the Mainland” middleweight title with a win over fellow UFC veteran Thales Leites.
Tim battles Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza for the belt vacated when Jake Shields did not re-sign with Strikeforce and left for the UFC.
Incidentally, Tim is the Most Dangerous Man In the World.
Men can thirst for many things – wealth, power, knowledge, the list goes on.
While Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal undoubtedly longs for at least some of those things, the one craving the “Team Thirsty” member would really like to quench is his thirst for greatness.
“It’s like whatever makes you feel good, we’re thirsty for,” Lawal told Shayna Baszler and Isaac on the Not a Women’s MMA Show, on the MMA DieHards Radio Network. “Everybody’s hungry. You can be hungry, but being thirsty is on a different level.”
It wouldn’t be hard to argue that Lawal’s wrestling resume – an NCAA Division II national championship, NCAA Division I All-American honors, a spot on the U.S. national team, a Real Pro Wrestling championship and numerous wins at the U.S. Senior National Championships – already qualifies him for recognition as a great.
Even just a glance at what Lawal has accomplished over the course of his fledgling mixed martial arts career would suggest that he’s destined for greatness in this combat sport as well.
Lawal’s shift from wrestling to MMA came in Japan, as he stepped into the ring to take on UFC and Pride veteran Travis Wiuff at Sengoku 5. He scored the upset over Wiuff and would go on to tally three more victories in Japan before returning to U.S. soil, eventually landing in the Strikeforce promotion.
After a win over Mike Whitehead in the organization’s heavyweight division, he found himself across the cage from Gegard Mousasi in a light heavyweight championship bout. Lawal wanted to stand with Mousasi, but it would ultimately be his world class wrestling leading him to the victory and Strikeforce gold.
“I wanted to strike with him, but he was trying to strike with me too,” Lawal added. “I’d throw my punches, I’d fake, then he’d cover up and I just took him down.
Even the championship win over a highly regarded competitor such as Mousasi was not enough to earn him the respect he sought.
“Mousasi, on Yahoo!, was in the top ten pound-for pound, one of the best,” Lawal said. “I beat him. You know how it usually goes, you beat somebody on the top ten pound-for-pound and you’re on the list.
“Not (for) one second. From then on, it was like Mousasi is overrated, he got beat by a wrestler.”
Lawal, with wrestling experience spanning both the collegiate and international ranks, does not believe the skill level of an internationally experienced wrestler is held in high enough reverence in MMA.
“People don’t understand the difference between Division I wrestling and international wrestling,” Lawal said on the show. “They always talk about this D-I trash. It’s cool when you’re wrestling a bunch of other college kids – other boys and other kids.
“In freestyle, you’re wrestling grown-ass men that have to win to provide for their family. You’re not wrestling kids…we’re going to other countries and wrestling the best the world has to offer.”
Slowly, however, “King Mo’s” name is moving its way up in the rankings and each battle won brings him one step closer to his ultimate goal of greatness.
Next, he must defend his title against Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante on August 21 at “Strikeforce: Houston”.
“Training is going along real well,” Lawal said of training for the fight. “It’s coming to a head. I’m feeling good.”
Greatness is not something that just falls into one’s lap, however. It is something an individual must work to attain and Lawal is not blind to this fact.
His hunt for excellence has led him to train with a variety of fighters, including Fabricio Werdum, Nate Marquardt, Rashad Evans, Mark Munoz and Brendan Schaub.
Lawal even spends his downtime studying tapes of fighters such as Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, Marcelo Garcia and Werdum.
“I study so much film,” he said. “I like to study strikers, grapplers and wrestlers.”
It’s all part of a quest for more knowledge, which Lawal believes is a big key to staying successful.
“I think the moment you stop learning is the moment you start losing,” Lawal said.
If Lawal’s pattern of success thus far and his drive to learn are any indication, the “King” should one day be able to quench his thirst.