After a career that spanned over 15 years and saw him fight for many of the biggest promotions in the sport, UFC middleweight contender Tim Kennedy has decided to call it quits on his MMA career. The decision comes following a TKO loss to Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 206 where the typically dominant Kennedy ended up on the wrong side of a beating from the up and coming Gastelum.
Kennedy, whose career as an Army Ranger and often acrimonious relationship with the UFC likely cost him opportunities to become a UFC champ, put up a heartfelt retirement letter on his Facebook page. Here are some highlights:
Sitting in the ER 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 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 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.”
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.
Kennedy finished off his letter assuring us that while he may be done fighting in the cage, he’ll still be around in the sport fighting for other athletes. Kennedy was one of several big name fighters throwing their weight behind the new Mixed Martial Arts Fighter’s Association, which aims to get UFC fighters a bigger piece of the UFC’s profits. It sounds like he’ll continue his work with them:
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 Gastelum’s and the Yair Rodriguez’s and the Paige VanZant’s will be sitting in their respective emergency rooms with their respective Nick’s talking about it being over. And when that day comes, I want to make sure their future is secure.
Considering the tenacity we’ve witnessed from Kennedy in both the cage and his military career, fighters couldn’t ask for a better ally. And if the UFC thought Tim could be a pain in their butt as one of their fighters, we imagine it’s going to be even worse for them now that they’re not signing his paychecks. We can’t wait to see it.