Following his family members Royce, Rolles, and Renzo, Roger Gracie hopes to bring honor and victory to his family in his UFC debut at UFC 162: “Silva vs. Weidman” against Tim Kennedy, who coincidentally is also fighting for his first time in this league. Both of these fighters have previously fought in Strikeforce, and were contenders in the middleweight division. These men come from respectable combat backgrounds. Kennedy is one of the few men to simultaneously serve full-time in the United States Army while also maintaining a career as a professional fighter. Gracie, on the other hand, comes from one the most well-known martial arts lineages in the world. The Gracies were the pioneers in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, descending from their patriarch Helio who studied under the first man to bring Japanese Jiu-Jitsu to Brazil, Mitsuyo Maeda. Almost everyone in their family trains in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu from an early age, and as Roger said, “before I could even walk my father was already teaching me an armlock.”
While Gracie trumps Kennedy in straight grappling knowledge, Kennedy definitely has more MMA and combat experience. As a Special Forces senior weapons sergeant and a Ranger-qualified Special Forces sniper, there is no doubt that Kennedy has some of the best combat training on the planet. On top of that, he has a black belt in MACP (Modern Army Combative), a black belt in Japanese Jiu-Jitsu, was a three-time Modern Army Combatives light-heavyweight champ, Grappler’s Quest 3 light-heavyweight champ, and fought (and lost) for the Strikeforce middleweight title on two separate occasions. He has defeated notable fighters before his involvement in Strikeforce, such as Nick Thompson, Dante Rivera and Jason Miller. Of his 15 victories, Kennedy has KO’s seven opponents and submitted six. With only two of his victories going by way of the judges’ score card, it is clear to see that Kennedy’s military training has taught him how to finish an opponent.
Kennedy isn’t the only one with a decorated background, as Gracie was seven-time world champion in jiu-jitsu, and three-time open-weight world champion. He competed in ADCC in 2005, winning all eight of his matches by way of submission. He has defeated notable UFC vets while in Strikeforce, including Keith Jardine, Kevin Randleman, Trevor Prangley, Ron Waterman and Yuki Kondo. Having received his BJJ black belt from his cousin Renzo, there is no doubt that the founder of one of London’s leading Gracie Jiu-Jitsu academies is dangerous on the ground. Of his six professional victories, five have come from submission, which means that Kennedy would benefit from keeping this fight standing.
If this fight goes to the ground, Kennedy will definitely be at a disadvantage, as that is no place to be with a second degree Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt. Gracie will want to bring the fight to him, and that means going for takedowns. Although Kennedy has superior combat training, it is important to keep in mind that UFC fights are not live combat, and that there are many rules keeping Kennedy from using many of the techniques and tactics that he may have learned in the service. His best bet is to defend takedowns and expect Gracie to go for submissions while defending them with tact and precision.