After years of struggling to secure consistent clashes in Strikeforce, many fans felt middleweight Tim Kennedy‘s Octagon debut at UFC 162 was long overdue. However, the 33-year old’s run in the infamous eight-sided cage could have easily ended before it ever really got started.

Kennedy ruffled feathers in the weeks leading up to the event by complaining about the amount of money mid/lower tier fighters earned despite being professional athletes working for a billion dollar corporation. As such, Kennedy is fairly confident he was fighting for his job earlier this month even though he’d come out triumphant in three of four efforts leading up to his bout with Roger Gracie.

“If I’d got submitted or lost an ugly fight…I think they would have cut me,” admitted Kennedy in an interview with MMAJunkie.

Though Kennedy earned a Unanimous Decision nod and dished out a good deal more damage than Gracie, the decorated military veteran was far from pleased with his performance.

“I fought exceptionally conservatively. As Greg Jackson put it, Cub Swanson turned a corner when he started believing he could knock anybody out. He’s just going to go out there and put leather on people’s faces and just go. He’s always had the skill, the ability, the athleticism, but he’d never take the risk and put it all out there,” explained Kennedy. “And for me, tonight I fought well enough to control the vast majority of every exchange, but when I got his back and I started hurting him, instead of going full throttle and pouring it on I was looking to secure a hook and stay in the position instead of just going for it, like Chris Weidman did (against Anderson Silva). That’s going for it. We have ideas about whether there’s a psychological barrier that’s preventing me from doing that, just wanting to be in control all the time.”

“g’m disappointed because I don’t feel like I put on a performance that was deserving of that top-three fight status on a major card,” he concluded. “I know I can do it. I should.”

Kennedy improved his career mark to 16-4 with the win over Gracie, only the third victory by way of decision on his record.