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Dublin: 12 °C Sunday 27 May, 2018

UFC contender Tim Kennedy pens poignant statement to announce his retirement

Kennedy made his professional MMA debut over 15 years ago.

UFC 162 MMA Tim Kennedy lands a kick on Roger Gracie during their July 2013 bout at UFC 162. Source: AP/Press Association Images

TIM KENNEDY HAS announced his retirement from mixed martial arts, admitting that age has caught up with him after over 15 years as a professional.

The 37-year-old, who departs with a record of 18-6, achieved many significant results during his career, including wins over current UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping and former welterweight title-holder Robbie Lawler. He suffered defeats to Luke Rockhold and Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza in Strikeforce middleweight title bouts.

Kennedy was due to return from a two-year lay-off at UFC 205 in November but his fight against Rashad Evans was cancelled when his opponent was forced to withdraw just four days before the event. Instead, Kennedy took on Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 206 in Toronto in December and suffered a third-round TKO defeat.

A US Army veteran who has previously stated that he is of Irish descent, the charismatic middleweight has never been reluctant to express an opinion on matters ranging from mixed martial arts to politics.

Last year Kennedy claimed to have received “credible threats” from ISIS. He also spoke at a Donald Trump rally in Albuquerque but later insisted that it was “not an endorsement” of the President-elect.

Kennedy has said in the past that he intends to re-enlist in the military. The California native, who trained under Greg Jackson in New Mexico, is also likely to be kept busy by his involvement with the Mixed Martial Arts Athletes’ Association, which was launched in November with the aim of securing better treatment for fighters competing in the UFC.

UFC 178 Mixed Martial Arts Tim Kennedy in the aftermath of a controversial September 2014 defeat to Yoel Romero. Source: John Locher

Kennedy won’t be remembered as one of MMA’s greatest fighters of all time, but he’ll certainly go down as one of the sport’s most intriguing characters.

Here’s his statement in full:

Sitting in the ER [Emergency Room] at Saint Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, Canada after my fight, I looked up at my buddy Nick Palmisciano who had ridden in the ambulance with me. He is a friend I didn’t deserve and [a] guy that stood with me from the beginning.Fighting is a lonely thing. You train with your team. You bleed with them. You trust your coaches but ultimately you are in the cage alone. This wasn’t our first time in this situation and [I was] thankful I had someone by my side. We had been here a few times in our past decade together. Sometimes for wins and sometimes for losses. The end result always looked the same: Nick carrying five bags that should have been split among three corners and me and my face are bleeding and swollen.

‘That’s it man,’ I said. ‘We’re all done.’

We had talked about it a lot over the past few years. I’d spoken to Nick, to my wife Ginger, and to Greg Jackson and Brandon Gibson ad nauseam about the coming end. No matter how hard I trained, I knew this ride wouldn’t last forever. But saying it out loud definitely brought me both sadness that this chapter was complete and overwhelming relief that it’s a decision I could make without worrying about taking care of my family.

I had just lost to Kelvin Gastelum, a really respectful and hard-working young fighter who went out and did all the things I consider myself good at, but did them better. He actually reminded me of me when I was younger, except I was kind of a jerk back then. As losses go, I was kind of happy I lost to a guy like him. A lot of my coaches, friends and fans immediately tried to build me up again.

‘Kelvin has the right skillset to beat you and it was your first fight back. You had ring rust. You’re still a top 10 middleweight.’

I appreciated their comments and I don’t think they are wrong. I know I am still a good fighter. I know I was away a while. But they didn’t feel what I felt, and that’s being 37. I felt like I was in slow motion the entire match. I felt tired for the first time ever in a fight. I’m the guy that once graduated Ranger School — a place that starves you and denies you sleep for over two months — and took a fight six days later in the IFL and won. I’m the guy that is always in shape. And I was for this fight. I worked harder than I ever have before for this fight. But I wasn’t me anymore. My brain knew what to do but my body did not respond. I’ve watched other fighters arrive here. I’ve watched other fighters pretend they weren’t here. I will not be one of them.

I want to thank the military community for their support. I’ll never be able to explain how much you motivated me and how much I always tried to make you proud. I’ve been a professional fighter for two decades, but there was no greater moment for me than winning the main event of Fight for the Troops 3. You made me invincible that night. I will keep fighting for you all until the day I die.

I want to thank all of my coaches, from the old days working with John Hackleman and Chuck Liddell, to all my military buddies who trained with me while I was on active duty, to Greg Jackson, Mike Winkeljohn, and Brandon Gibson now. That you all thought me worthy of the investment of your time means more than you will ever know.

I want to thank all of my opponents. Iron sharpens iron and every great victory or crushing defeat occurred because there was someone who trained hard and had the courage to meet me across the cage. I want to call a few guys out in particular.

To Luke Rockhold and Jacare [Souza]: You guys gave me two grinding fights that asked for everything I had. You both made me better and I hope I did the same for you. I hope the two of you keep that Strikeforce chip on your shoulders and get back on top. To Robbie Lawler: You hit me harder than anyone ever has. Seriously, that really hurt. To Roger Gracie: My training for your fight reminded me that I love the gi. Thank you for that. To Rafael Natal: It took tremendous guts to take the Fight for the Troops fight. I will always appreciate you for that and cheer for you every time you fight. To Michael Bisping: I’ve never wanted to beat anyone more than I wanted to beat you, and that motivated me to provide the best version of myself. Best of luck to you going forward, champ.

Finally to my wife: I don’t deserve you and you don’t deserve what I’ve put you through. I could lie to you and tell you it’s all over, but we both know I have already moved onto another super dangerous thing to fill my time, so I’m going to leave it just at ‘thank you and sorry’ for now.

So with that, to all of you fighters out there, I am not going anywhere. I love fighting and will always have the heart of a figher. I am committed to growing our sport and taking care of those who are a part of it. As sad as it is for me to walk away, the only thing sadder would be for me to stay because I had no other choice in order to feed my family. Someday the Kelvin Gastelums and the Yair Rodriguezs and the Paige VanZants will be sitting in their respective emergency rooms with their respective Nicks talking about it being over. And when that day comes, I want to make sure their future is secure.

I love you all. Thanks for listening. And thank you most of all for giving me the opportunity to do what I love for all these years.

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About the author:

Paul Dollery

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