Saturday was fight night again for Jeremy Kennedy, the Surrey-raised MMA featherweight looking to rise up the Bellator promotion ranks with a win over one tough opponent.
On Oct. 1, after 10 months out of Bellator’s circular cage, he was up against higher-ranked featherweight Aaron Pico at the Bellator 286 event at Long Beach Arena in southern California.
Kennedy won the fight by TKO after the opening round, when Pico’s left shoulder popped out of the socket.
The #7-ranked Kennedy has now won three of his first four outings under the Bellator banner, and Saturday’s win over the #3-ranked Pico could give him a shot at the world title.
“This opportunity is huge, and I’m ready to capitalize on it,” Kennedy said prior to Saturday’s fight, in a phone call from California.
— BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA) September 30, 2022
The five-foot-10, 145-pound Kennedy is now 18-3 in pro MMA since 2016, when he signed with the UFC as an undefeated top prospect and champion on the Canadian scene.
The 18 fights he’s won are tattooed as notches on his left rib cage.
With Bellator, Kennedy’s previous few fights were in Connecticut in a “bubble” the promotion used for fights during the pandemic.
“My last one was supposed to be in April against Pico, but I actually got injured 10 days out from the fight,” Kennedy explained. “My last fight, I won back in December against Emmanuel Sanchez, who was ranked fourth, so I’ve been fighting these ranked guys. Prior to that one, I fought in April 2021, and my first Bellator fight was in November 2020, right in the middle of that first COVID year.”
Kennedy has been training in Las Vegas, where he lives with his wife of more than two years, Haley.
“Once we got married (in August 2020), that’s when we made the move to Vegas, pretty much, because with the border restrictions at the time it wasn’t easy to go back and forth,” Kennedy elaborated.
“And Canada had that two-week quarantine period too – I did a couple stints of those, like, six weeks of quarantine total, and I was done with that. So we packed up the dogs (boxers Joe and Cooper), rented out the townhouse we bought in Langley and drove down to Vegas, because that’s where the fights were happening and where I needed to be.
“My parents are still in Surrey and I stay and visit them,” he added. “I get back there quite a bit, and will be in mid-October.”
Kennedy turned 30 on Sept. 16, but he didn’t celebrate much.
“With the diet and training, I didn’t do much for my birthday,” he said with a sigh. “I think I did three sessions and a couple recovery sessions that day. Didn’t have birthday cake, no, nothing like that.”
Prior to any fight, making weight is the hard part, he said on Sept. 28. “The last few days, it’s not even about the fight, it’s about making weight – not eating too much. I haven’t eaten carbs since the weekend,” said Kennedy, whose nickname has long been JBC, a reference to Wendy’s Jr. Bacon Cheeseburgers he loved to eat back in the day, while growing up in Fleetwood.
People still call him that, sometimes.
“Oh for sure,” Kennedy admitted, “but that’s more of a Lower Mainland, Vancouver thing. Out here now, my nickname is still JBC but people wonder what that stands for. So I tell them and they think it’s funny. It’s an original B.C. thing and all my hometown people know it, so I keep it strong.”
Ahead of the fight, Kennedy had been doing interviews with MMA journalists and podcasters from around the world. “It’s nice to be calling one in the 604 area code, someone from the home town,” he said with a laugh.