Rafael Natal has won the sweepstakes to take on Tim Kennedy in the main event of the UFC‘s Fight for the Troops 3 card in November. Kennedy was left in need of a new opponent after Lyoto Machida was moved to Fight Night 30 in England. “The Dragon” got the call to replace an injured Michael Bisping against Mark Munoz in the main event of that October 26 card.
Natal had been initially slated to tangle with Ed Herman at UFC 167, but now gets the November 6 date in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Kennedy’s inclusion on this particular card was a no-brainer for the UFC given his background as a highly decorated Army Ranger. He was victorious in his Octagon debut against Roger Gracie, earning a decision victory at UFC 162. Kennedy has been victorious in four of his last five fights.
Natal had been asking for a high-profile opponent after a victory over Tor Troeng in what was a wild affair at Fight Night 28 in Brazil. It earned both a Fight of the Night bonus. He’s reeled off three consecutive victories and is in the midst of a strong stretch that features five wins in his last six fights. The lone blemish during that time was a loss against Andrew Craig.
Kennedy has been in the Octagon with some talented individuals dating back to his Strikeforce career, having faced the likes of Luke Rockhold, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and Robbie Lawler. He’s known for his grinding style that tends to lead to uncomfortable nights for his opponents. Kennedy has a 16-4 overall record with eight submission victories.
Natal’s career mark is very similar to Kennedy’s as he has also registered eight submission wins and is 17-4-1 overall. “Sapo” is hopeful that another triumph will allow him to crack the middleweight top-10 rankings. This opportunity marks the first main event of Natal’s UFC career.
Kennedy will certainly have plenty of support behind him on November 6 and he’s proven himself against some high quality opposition in his career. He wants to continue to impress UFC brass and can definitely do that by putting a halt to Natal’s winning ways.
As for the Brazilian, he’s thrilled with this chance to shine in a high-profile event, and Natal doesn’t seem fazed by having to enter hostile territory to square off against a very tough opponent in Kennedy. It has the makings to be a highly competitive clash between two fighters hoping to climb the 185-pound ladder.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports