At 9:30 on the morning of his last Muscle & Fitness photo shoot Tim Kennedy walked into the gym wearing a suit. There weren’t any cameras out yet, and you could count the number of people he’d see before changing into his workout gear on one hand, but Kennedy dressed for business anyway. First impressions count, you see, and the chance to inspire the handful of people he’d be working with that day had not yet presented itself. That’s what Kennedy does. He inspires.
We first profiled Kennedy—a Strikeforce and soon-to-be UFC-middleweight contender and bona fide war hero—in our August 2010 issue. A self-proclaimed “shithead” who went on to a decorated military career as a Green Beret sniper and Bronze Star recipient, Kennedy’s story is unique among pro athletes—especially since he’s still serving in the military as a combat marksmanship instructor for the Texas National Guard.
And after multiple tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, he plans on going back. “That’s where I belong,” Kennedy says. “I have a fixed period of time back here, fighting, and then I’m going back to continue doing my job.” For now, however, he’s one of the hottest properties in MMA—and the man seemingly no one wants to fight. With world-class wrestling and submission skills, power in both hands and feet, and arguably the best stamina in the sport, Kennedy presents a stiff challenge for any middleweight in the game.
Since We Last Spoke
The past year has been a mixed bag for Kennedy. With two impressive first-round submission wins sandwiched between a controversial decision loss to Strikeforce middleweight champion Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, he’s been fighting. But after working for only seven total rounds for more than 12 months, he’s hungry for more action, bigger fights, and better opportunities to spread his message that doing things the right way—with class—is the only way to operate.
The loss to Souza was particularly disappointing. “I thought I won the fight,” he says. “When you look at the stats, I outstruck him, and I took him down twice.” Motivated to step up his training in terms of game-planning, he began working with renowned MMA mastermind Greg Jackson prior to his title fight, and the fruits of their labor, if not fully realized against Souza, were evident in a dominant submission (via rear naked choke) win over Melvin Manhoef in March.
Through it all, Kennedy has maintained a constant state of readiness anyone can emulate, whether preparing for combat or simply getting in shape. The man is perpetually ripped to the bone, always in phenomenal condition, and always prepared to take any fight on short notice. “No matter what I do, it’s all about the workouts,” he says. “When I travel, I make sure I get my workout in first. When I’m in camp for a fight, I don’t travel at all, and I train three times a day. The secret is to just keep working.”