For years, Tim Kennedy was widely regarded to be one of the toughest middleweights out there, not signed to the UFC. While hardcore fans and pundits followed his successes in the IFL and then Strikeforce, the decorated soldier remained largely unknown to mainstream audiences. Of course, Kennedy began to change all that at UFC 162 earlier this year, by working his way to a unanimous decision win over Roger Gracie in his Octagon debut. Up next, Kennedy has been rewarded with a headlining bout, as he’ll face Rafael Natal at “Fight for the Troops III” on November 6th.

So, how long does the 34 year-old Kennedy plan on fighting? Now that the biggest opportunities of his career are arriving, approximately 12 years after he turned pro? Well, while appearing on the latest edition of  “UFC Tonight”, here’s what the well rounded fighter had to say.

“Stylistically, I can fight a long time. I’ve never taken a lot of damage. I think Diego Sanchez took more damage in one fight than I have in my entire career. I think Junior dos Santos got more damage in one fight than I would in five life times.  I could fight for another five, six or seven more years. I don’t know if I want to…I still want to get my long gun out and be sniper in Special Forces ODA, but I have some goals in MMA that I set out to do and I’m not going to stop until I get them.”

There’s certainly no doubt both Sanchez and JDS took a ton of punishment in those fights. While most people would likely be shocked to see Kennedy incur that much damage in his bout with Natal, as the betting lines have him as a big favourite in the -300 to -370 range, “Sapao” is no joke. As Kennedy also noted in the interview.

“I have a lot of respect for him. He’s a tough guy. He’s well-rounded with great jiu-jitsu, has great wresting, and is an unorthodox striker. He has a lot of power, great heart, and never quits. I expect to give the troops what they deserve, which is a great fight.”

Although a win over Lyoto Machida would have likely turned more heads (“The Dragon” was supposed to fight Kennedy and until Michael Bisping dropped out of UFN 30), next Wednesday is still a huge opportunity for Kennedy, as well as Natal.

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