SURREY — Jeremy Kennedy has never been to Brazil, but it’s been on his “bucket list” for a good number of years.
In a few weeks, he’ll get to visit the South American country, but in a different setting than he imagined.
“I was thinking more Rio or something like that, but this is great, obviously. Now I get to fight there and get paid,” Kennedy said with a smile.
The Surrey-based MMA fighter recently got the call from UFC brass he’d been waiting for – to fight once again, this time on March 11 in the city of Fortaleza.
He’ll take on a home-town fellow featherweight by the name of Rony Jason as part of a “MMA Fight Night Live” card staged by Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
Kennedy will be the “enemy” in the octagon that night.
“It’d be like him coming to fight me here in Surrey,” he said with a laugh.
“It’s going to be exciting, for sure – a lot of boos (from the crowd),” he added.
Kennedy, 24, made his UFC debut last August during an event at Rogers Arena in Vancouver – home turf for the Fleetwood-area resident.
In the event’s first fight, Kennedy scored a unanimous decision over fellow Canadian newcomer Alessandro Ricci in a lightweight-division battle.
Kennedy is a natural 145-pounder, so he’s glad to be going to Brazil to fight someone in his own weight class.
Currently 9-0 as a pro, he’ll be looking to add a tenth notch to his ribcage-area tattoo that counts his wins.
“(Jason) won the Ultimate Fighter Brazil, the first season of that, so he’s gonna be tough, and he’s been in UFC for awhile as well – for as long as I’ve been a pro, I think,” Kennedy reported. “He’s got a lot of experience, so I’m not taking it lightly, for sure.”
Kennedy has been training at Revolution Martial Arts gym on the Langley Bypass and also at the Scorpion facility in Pitt Meadows. He also teaches at Budo in East Van.
Months after his fight at Rogers Arena, Kennedy waited for his next UFC card to emerge. When his manager called to ask about his passport, Kennedy knew something was cooking.
“Right away I knew I wasn’t going to a UFC event in Halifax at the end of February, and I thought I might be going there,” he recalled. “With the passport question I knew it’d be international, and that was exciting, and then I looked at all the cards. They have one in Vegas at the beginning of March and then another one in Brazil on March 11 and another in England after that. So I figured it’d be one of those three. Then looking at how many fights each card had, Brazil only had four or five, so I kind of assumed it’d be Brazil before I actually got the call, and I was training for that date eight weeks out.”
To prepare, he’ll fly to the oceanside city a bit early.
“It’s not high altitude or anything there, because the city is pretty much at sea level. The only (challenge) there might be the humidity, but I’m going there a week early and get some training in beforehand. I lived in Thailand before and every time I’d get there, my first training session, I’d be sucking wind because of the humidity, so I have to get (to Brazil) early, do a training session and then I’ll be ready to go.”
Kennedy’s nickname is JBC, or Junior Bacon Cheeseburger – the “value menu” item he once ate at Wendy’s.
Today, he’s into healthier food – oatmeal in the morning, lots of veggies and fruit throughout the day, trail mix as a snack and chicken or white fish for dinner – but the JBC name remains.
“They still call me that,” Kennedy explained. “It’s got a ring to it now, I guess. I haven’t eaten those for awhile, but I was always into them when I was young, like when I was age 18 and the young kid on the scene. I was getting told by people to start eating cleaner, and I had no idea what they were talking about. So a week later, after eating McDonald’s for a long time, they asked me how the cleaner eating was going and I said, ‘It’s all good now, I switched to Wendy’s’ and I was dead serious. It’s pretty hilarious now.”
Surrey’s Kennedy wins UFC debut fight on home turf (Aug. 28, 2016)
UFC dream comes true for Fleetwood-raised Kennedy (Sept. 7, 2016)