American retired professional mixed martial artist who most recently competed in the UFC’s Middleweight division. He has also formerly competed for Strikeforce, the WEC, ShoMMA, HDNet Fights, and represented the Chicago Red Bears in the IFL.
Kennedy is one of the few fighters to simultaneously serve in the United States Army National Guard while also fighting professionally. Kennedy began competing in sanctioned mixed martial arts fights while still in college, but after graduation he enlisted in the United States Army, joining the elite Special Forces in 2004. However, he continued to compete in MMA while serving as a Green Beret. When the Army instituted a service-wide Combatives (hand-to-hand fighting) tournament in 2005, Kennedy entered and won the tournament in the Light Heavyweight division. He achieved this goal three years in a row.
Tim Kennedy joined the Army on January 4, 2004, and completed Basic Combat Training, Advanced Individual Training, Airborne School and the Special Forces Qualification Course. Tim was featured in Dick Couch’s book about Green Beret selection called “Chosen Soldier” under the moniker “Tom Kendall”. In 2007, he completed Ranger School and was assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group, where he served on an Operational Detachments Alpha. During this time he was also a sniper, sniper instructor, and the principal combative instructor for C Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group. Kennedy deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom multiple times. In August 2009, Kennedy transitioned from active duty to the Texas Army National Guard and served in the position of Special Forces Weapons Sergeant.
Among Kennedy’s multiple awards are the Army’s Bronze Star Medal with V device, which was awarded for valor under fire. On April 16, 2017, Kennedy announced his reenlistment into the U.S. Army Special Forces, praising the leadership of Secretary of Defense Gen. James Mattis and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.
Kennedy began training at Dokan School of Martial Arts in Atascadero, California under Terry Kelly and Barry Smith. He first started fighting in 1996, amassing a record of 30–1 over the next five years. In 1999, Kennedy began training with Chuck Liddell, Jake Shields, Gan McGee, and John Hackleman at The Pit in San Luis Obispo. In 2003 he entered and won a one-night tournament at Extreme Challenge 50, winning all three of his fights. In 2004 he joined the Army. Kennedy only fought once in 2006. He then fought for the now-defunct International Fight League in 2007 and did not fight in 2008 due to Army deployments overseas. During this time he wrote a three-part series of “Letters from a Foreign Land” that chronicled his time in combat.
Kennedy returned to mixed martial arts in 2009 with a win over Nick Thompson at Strikeforce Challengers: Villasenor vs. Cyborg in Kent, Washington. He followed this up with an impressive win over Zak Cummings in the main event of ShoMMA 3.
Kennedy fought Trevor Prangley on June 16, 2010, at Strikeforce: Los Angeles. Kennedy won the fight via Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) in the first round.
In January 2013, the Strikeforce organization was closed by its parent company Zuffa. A list of fighters scheduled to be brought over to the Ultimate Fighting Championship was released in mid-January and Kennedy was one of the fighters listed.
Kennedy faced Roger Gracie on July 6, 2013, at UFC 162, he defeated Gracie via unanimous decision after defending Gracie’s submission attempts and standing up with Gracie, outstriking him.
Kennedy was expected to face Lyoto Machida on November 6, 2013, at UFC Fight For The Troops 3. However, Machida was pulled from the bout in favor of a matchup with Mark Muñoz on October 26, 2013, at UFC Fight Night 30, after Muñoz’s original opponent, Michael Bisping was forced out of their bout with an injury. Kennedy instead faced Rafael Natal in the event headliner. He won the fight via knockout in the first round. The win also earned him his first Knockout of the Night bonus award.
For his third fight with the promotion, Kennedy faced Michael Bisping on April 16, 2014, at The Ultimate Fighter Nations Finale. He won the fight via unanimous decision.