American military hero and rising mixed martial arts (MMA) star Tim Kennedy (10-2) will return to the cage to battle power punching Brazilian and middleweight (185 pounds) rival Evangelista Cyborg (16-13) in the main event of a STRIKEFORCE Challengers card live on SHOWTIME from Tulsa, Oklahoma’s SpiritBank Event Center on Friday, September 25.
Tickets for the event, priced from $25, go on sale Monday, August 10 at 10 a.m. CT and will be available for purchase at the SpiritBank Event Center box office as well as at all Ticketmaster locations (800-745-3000), Ticketmaster online (www.ticketmaster.com), and Strikeforce’s official website (www.strikeforce.com).
“I think we’re both pretty explosive fighters and we both show up to fight. We both like to throw some big bombs so it’s a good matchup,” said the 29-year-old Kennedy, who recently accepted an offer to serve in the Texas National Guard after spending six years in The United States Army, the last three as a sniper in the Seventh Special Forces Group.
In his last start, a June 19 matchup with Nick “The Goat” Thompson at ShoWare Center in Kent, Washington, Kennedy turned out a dominant performance, stopping Thompson on the ground with an onslaught of punches in the second round (2:37) of action.
“I don’t think anybody can really plan to see what I’m coming in to do this time,” said Kennedy. “I’m working with the best boxing coaches and training with Mark DeLaGrotte, one of the best MMA striking coaches in the world, so I think that people are going to see a new Tim that they’ve never seen before.”
“Strikeforce has a whole bunch of guys in my weight class who I match up very well with. They pretty much have control of the whole 185 pound division barring two exceptions that are in UFC. I want to fight all of these guys and put on a good show for SHOWTIME and STRIKEFORCE.”
A graduate of Columbia College in Missouri, Kennedy launched his professional MMA career shortly before enlisting in the military near the end of 2001.
“After 9/11 happened, I wanted to do something for my country,” he explained. Kennedy’s new job will allow him to remain in the armed services while maintaining enough flexibility to take his MMA career to the next level.
“The military is my life,” said Kennedy. “I am going to serve as long as they’ll let me. I’d love to retire in uniform.”
The 31-year-old Cyborg is looking to turn his fortunes around after suffering two straight defeats, the last of which was to Joey Villasenor by way of split decision in the main event of the June 19 STRIKEFORCE Challengers event.
“I was just a little bit out of rhythm and was coming off an injury so my training was not 100 percent,” explained Cyborg of his showing in the fight with Villasenor, which also marked Cyborg’s first start in nearly nine months. “This is not an excuse. It’s just something natural that all athletes go through when they stop fighting for a long period of time.”
“I believe I will be able to do the opposite this time from the Villasenor fight where we stood up and punched each other,” said Cyborg. “I think I will finally be able to show my Jiu-Jitsu game and surprise a lot of people.
Cyborg is a member of the famed Chute Boxe fight squad that has produced a number of MMA’s finest champions including Anderson Silva, Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva, and brothers Mauricio “Shogun” and Murilo “Ninja” Rua. Cyborg’s wife and training partner, Cris Cyborg, is preparing for the biggest fight of her life — a long-awaited, STRIKEFORCE women’s 145 pound championship showdown with top rival Gina “Conviction” Carano — on Saturday, August 15.
World championship MMA promotion STRIKEFORCE will produce the event at SpiritBank Event Center along with eXtreme Fighting promoter and five-time world kickboxing champion Dale “Apollo” Cook.
SpiritBank Event Center doors will open at 7:15 p.m. CT for the STRIKEFORCE Challengers event and the first preliminary bout will begin at 8:00 p.m.
The live SHOWTIME telecast of the STRIKEFORCE Challengers event will begin at 11 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the west coast).
Strikeforce Challengers is a proving ground for up-and-coming MMA fighters. The series is designed to provide today’s top prospects with the opportunity to step-up their level of competition and demonstrate their ability in a nationally televised event.