Middleweight Rafael "Sapo" Natal (17-4-1 MMA, 5-2-1 UFC) is the winner of the Tim Kennedy (16-4 MMA, 1-0 UFC) opponent sweepstakes at "UFC Fight Night 31: UFC Fight for the Troops 3." UFC officials today announced the switch.
Kennedy was left without an opponent when Lyoto Machida was summoned to fight Mark Munoz at UFC Fight Night 30. Rather than wait for a new opponent, he began calling out middleweights on Twitter.
Just about every active middleweight, to be exact.
Brazilian Natal was on that list, of course, and Kennedy messaged an enticement to fight.
"Opportunity knocks @rafaelsaponatal," he wrote. "You always win, but no one knows who you are. When I'm done with you, neither will you(Tough guy voice)"
As it turns out, the UFC was following Kennedy's feed. The soldier now meets the submission specialist at the Nov. 6 event, which takes place at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Kennedy, a former Strikeforce title challenger, is expected to keep his headliner status on the main card, which airs live on FOX Sports 1 following prelims on FOX Sports 1 and Facebook.
"I love that I'm fighting a guy with beautiful bronze skin," Kennedy told MMAjunkie.com. "He looks dashing regardless of what he's wearing. Because of that I hate him. I will have to destroy a beautiful thing."
In July, Kennedy made his octagon debut against submission specialist Roger Gracie and won an unspectacular decision. He was briefly linked to a fight with Vitor Belfort before getting assigned to Machida.
Natal, who's won his past three in the UFC, most recently outpointed Tor Troeng at UFC Fight Night 28 and was scheduled to fight Ed Herman next month at UFC 167. Herman's is still expected to fight at the event but will wait on a new foe.
Machida stepped in for an injured Michael Bisping, who suffered a detached retina in training for the fight. The ex-champ is coming off a controversial decision loss to Phil Davis, while Munoz recently outpointed Tim Boetsch.