Tim Kennedy (12-3) returns to the cage for the first time since his controversial unanimous decision loss to Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza for the vacant Strikeforce Middleweight Championship last August. Kennedy will face long-time veteran Melvin Manhoef in a featured bout at Strikeforce: Feijao vs. Henderson live on Showtime this Saturday, March 5th.
“I have been looking for a fight for the past six months,” Kennedy told FightLine.com. “I think it’s an exciting fight, and one that I see myself winning, so I’m excited.
“He’s [Manhoef] tough and throws bombs, so it will be a challenge for sure. Everyone who loses a title fight has to adjust and get back on the winning track to climb back up the ladder, so this is what I’m doing.”
Despite losing four of his last six fights, Manhoef is still one of the most dangerous fighters in the Strikeforce middleweight division, having knockout power in both of his hands. Manhoef was dominating a game Robbie Lawler with punishing leg kicks in his Strikeforce debut in January of 2010 before being clipped and knocked out in the first round.
“I think Melvin is very dangerous,” admitted Kennedy. “He has knockout power from every position and I think his wrestling is underestimated. He showed how his reputation for power is earned against Robbie Lawler. Those kicks hurt Robbie and I’m sure if he connects with them on me, I’ll feel it.”
Manhoef’s admitted weak spot has been his ground game. Five of his last six losses have been via submission. Despite this glaring hole in Manhoef’s game, Kennedy sees the fight staying on the feet.
“I think we are both going to be trying to knockout each other,” said Kennedy. “Someone is going down. It’s just that simple. I have a better ground game, but I honestly hope it doesn’t come to that.”
Kennedy plans to have his hand raised this Saturday and work his way back to a title shot. He stated that he would like to face another top fighter in the division if he is victorious this weekend.
“I’ll be looking for a top ten guy after this fight,” he said. “Of course my goal is to get back into a five-round fight, but I’m only looking at my next fight. I think I’m one of the best middleweights in Strikeforce, but it’s up to them to determine who gets the title shot.”
Kennedy faces Manhoef this Saturday at Strikeforce: Feijao vs. Henderson from the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.