Tim Kennedy vs. Michael Bisping? Yeah, That Sounds About Right

Jeremy Botter@jeremybotterMMA Senior WriterNovember 7, 2013

Nov 6, 2013; Fort Campbell, KY, USA; Tim Kennedy (red gloves) reacts to his win against Rafael Natal (not pictured) in the middleweight bout during UFC Fight for the Troops at Fort Campbell. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports
Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off the biggest win of his career over Rafael Natal at UFC Fight for the Troops 3, Tim Kennedy wasted little time in setting his sights on a new opponent.

Well, truth be told, he wasted a little time. When asked at the post-fight press conference whom he'd like to face next, Kennedy was reserved. 

"I think I'll wait until I get on Twitter and Facebook, and then I'll start firing off shots," Kennedy said.

True to his word, that's exactly what Kennedy did. Here's what the rising middleweight contender said earlier today:

And if that wasn't enough, Kennedy added one more zinger. Think of it as the icing on the call-out cake, if you will:

Bisping, of course, is on the shelf with a serious eye injury, one that nearly derailed the career of one of the UFC's enduring heels and entertainers. But after undergoing surgery to fix the issue, Bisping is on the mend. He'll return some day, though we don't know when, and Kennedy is throwing his hat into the ring. He'd like to be the guy to welcome the Brit back to the cage.

It makes a lot of sense, too. Despite what Kennedy tweeted, Bisping is one of the UFC's top fighters; he's currently ranked fourth in its official rankings. He's 6-2 in his last eight fights, but the two losses came at the hands of Vitor Belfort and Chael Sonnen.

One can hardly fault Bisping for losing those fights, as both men are perennial contenders and big-time superstars. In two weight divisions, no less.

Kennedy is currently unranked in the division, or at least he was before Wednesday night's momentum-building win in front of the soldiers at Fort Campbell. I had Kennedy at seventh on my own official ballot, and I've moved him up to sixth after the win over Natal. I suspect plenty of other media members will also include Kennedy on their ballots when the newest set of rankings come out on Friday.

Apr 27, 2013; Newark, NJ, USA; Michael Bisping (red gloves) celebrates defeating Alan Belcher (blue gloves) during UFC 159 at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

To me, Bisping and Kennedy are close enough in the division that pairing them off makes a lot of sense. And there's also this: If Bisping beats Kennedy, he will have defeated a very tough and well-rounded fighter. He'll have a case for title contention. And he'll finally have the kind of win over a big opponent that he's lacked in his UFC career thus far.

The same goes for Kennedy. A win over Bisping means something, especially if it comes in front of a pay-per-view audience. The former Army Special Forces sergeant's popularity is on the rise after his emotional knockout of Natal, and beating Bisping—who has managed to stay near the top of the division despite never winning "the big one" because of his forceful personality—would greatly elevate Kennedy in the eyes of the fans. Especially if he does it in front of an American audience that almost exclusively roots for anyone Bisping faces in the cage.

Again, we don't know when Bisping will return to the cage. It could very well be a long time. But if the stars line up, if Bisping is ready to go whenever Kennedy deems himself ready to return to training, then this fight makes perfect sense. 

UPDATE: Bisping has responded: