From the Battlefield to the Ring

Staff Sergeant Tim Kennedy will be fighting for the Strikeforce middleweight belt this Friday, August 21st. (Photo by Esther Lin)

UPDATE, via ESPN Mixed Martial Arts: “Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza anchored the Strikeforce middleweight championship belt to his waist after a hard-fought five-round battle with Tim Kennedy. The Brazilian — known for his world class jiu-jitsu skills — battered Kennedy with a tenacious standup attack that kept him off balance throughout the fight.

‘In the cage, you can only find warriors, and Tim Kennedy’s a warrior,” Jacare said through his translator. “He had a hard time taking me down, so we had to go stand up. I’m stoked that I won.’”

We’re still proud of Tim Kennedy and hope you enjoy the video we’ve added below!

by Kelly Crigger

Most people wouldn’t dream of pinching a cage fighter’s cheeks and making fun of him, but Tim Kennedy does and you can’t blame him for it. “Every time a fighter refers to a match as a ‘war,’ I just want to say ‘Awww. Do you?’” Kennedy says. “They don’t know what a war is. I do.”

He’s right. Mixed Martial Arts is a rough sport, but too often fighters claim,” When I go in that cage, it’s going to be a war!” It just makes guys like Kennedy who have actually been in combat cringe…or chuckle in amusement. A Sniper in the 7th Special Forces Group, Staff Sergeant Kennedy has a handful of deployments under his belt and a silver star to back up his words. He’s also got heavy hands and amazing grappling skills, though those weapons aren’t crafted so much for the battelfield as they are for the cage.

On August 21st in Houston, Kennedy will fight for the Strikeforce middleweight title, becoming only the second former Army NCO to fight for a Mixed Martial Arts championship belt. The first was legendary fighter Randy Couture, who enlisted in the Army after high school and was stationed at Fort Sill. Last year, Kennedy left active duty to become a full time fighter and joined the Texas National Guard’s 19th Special Focres Group to maintain his ties to the military and continue to serve his country.

“I wanted to stay on active duty,” Kennedy says. “But we just couldn’t come up with an arrangement that would allow me to pursue a fighting career and be a full time soldier simultaneously. Fighting is hard on the body and we can’t do it forever. We only have a limited number of years before the damage we take catches up with us, so I decided I wanted to be a world champion now while I still can.”

Some might criticize Kennedy for choosing the life of a professional athlete over reenlisting, but after serving his country for five years in an elite unit, you’d be hard pressed to convince anyone that he hasn’t done his duty. Or seen a real war.

Kelly Crigger recently wrote about PTSD and kickboxing for the blog.  You can see more of his work online at KellyCrigger.comThe opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of Kelly Crigger and do not necessarily reflect those of the USO.