Melvin Manhoef is a lethal striker, but everyone in the middleweight division knows the Dutchman is helpless on the ground. Tim Kennedy had to eat a few nasty kicks and struggled over the first two-plus minutes to get the fight to the ground, but once he did, it was sayonara for Manhoef. Kennedy scored his 13th career victory via rear-naked choke at the 3:41 mark of the first at Strikeforce: Columbus at Nationwide Arena.
Kennedy (13-3) was thrilled to get the win.
"We're talking Melvin Manhoef, one of the most decorated strikers in MMA. I'm excited," Kennedy told Showtime's Mauro Ranallo. "There's no hidden gameplan. He's weak off his back [but] his takedown defense is underrated. He showed he's ever-improving."
Manhoef (24-9-1, six losses via submission) did a solid job of avoiding the takedown. Kennedy missed on his first three attempts. Wary of Manhoef's nasty kicks, Kennedy was shooting from long distance. He may have felt of bit urgency when Manhoef landed his best kick of the fight. Kennedy got drilled by low kick on his lead leg and went down for a second.
Kennedy finally scored the takedown with 2:35 left in the first. He closed space and trapped Manhoef along the cage. Once Manhoef was on his back, Kennedy was in side control. It took him 12 seconds to get the mount, where Manhoef almost immediately spun to his stomach. At that point, a fighter the level of Kennedy is impossible to stop.
Kennedy's only loss with Strikeforce came in a close decision against current middleweight champ Ronaldo Souza. If Souza continues to roll, expect a rematch some time before the end of 2011.