MIXED MARTIAL ARTS

‘This is my shot’: Langley’s Jeremy Kennedy looks for MMA title with UFC rival Bellator

The 15-2 featherweight, 28, has had a ‘crazy’ 2020 due to COVID-caused quarantine

Jeremy Kennedy is itching to get back into the MMA ring and he’ll soon get his chance with Bellator, the UFC rival promotion that has signed the Langley-based fighter to its growing roster.

Kennedy hasn’t fought since last October, due to scheduling snafus made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Raised in Surrey, the 28-year-old featherweight is currently training at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas and waiting for his next fight to be announced by the California-based Bellator company.

As a pro, Kennedy’s record is 15 wins, two losses and one no-contest ruling.

“Bellator’s featherweight division is really good, and I think it’s one where I can become champion, you know, and that’s 100 per cent my goal,” Kennedy said in a phone interview from Nevada. “I’m not fighting for the money, I really want a title in a major organization, and I think this is my shot.”

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It’s been a “crazy” 2020 for Kennedy, who flew back to Canada in mid-March when the pandemic hit. He remained in Langley until a couple of weeks after his mid-August marriage to Haley, with whom he shares a townhouse and the company of two dogs. She helps run the family’s Oxygen Yoga & Fitness studio in Walnut Grove.

“She’s been super supportive about my going back and forth (between Langley and Las Vegas), and now it’s just getting tougher because of the quarantine,” Kennedy noted.

“We haven’t seen each other in around 26 days, and we’re newlyweds so that’s real tough,” he continued. “But she’s busy with the studio, otherwise I’m sure she’d be here spending a few weeks with me. But one week here with me is really three weeks of her being away from her studio there, because of the two-week quarantine period. We both have pretty demanding careers, and I’m where I need to be right now and she’s where she needs to be, just not together.”

Back in the summer of 2016, a dream of Kennedy’s came true when he made his UFC debut at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, and won, over fellow Canadian newcomer Alessandro Ricci.

Seven years earlier, in 2009, Kennedy’s first amateur MMA fight took place during a charity event at Relate Church on 152nd Street, not far from his Fleetwood stomping grounds.

• RELATED STORY, from 2016: UFC dream comes true for Fleetwood-raised Jeremy Kennedy.

Right now, Kennedy is training twice, sometimes thrice a day with the hope of soon landing a Bellator-sanctioned fight.

“I’m hoping that happens sometime this month,” Kennedy said. “They have a card Oct. 29 that I have a teammate on, and that’s in Connecticut, so I’m going to really push for that one. That’d give me plenty of time to get ready, but if not they have a card right after that, in mid-November, so I’m really pushing for one of those. I’m here training, I’m ready, and then that way I can fight and then go home for the holidays, come back here and then keep going after that.”

Kennedy has travelled to MMA fights around the world over the past few years, with the UFC, Brave CF and Professional Fighters League (PFL) organizations.

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In a PFL playoff event last October, Kennedy beat Luis Rafael Laurentino by second-round knockout in the quarterfinals, but then submitted to Daniel Pineda in the semifinals. In post-fight drug tests ordered by the Nevada Athletic Commission, both Laurentino and Pineda tested positive, leading to a no-contest ruling in the Pineda fight.

“That was two fights in one night,” Kennedy recalled. “I avenged my loss to Luis, and then fought Pineda, and I just want to erase that one completely out of my mind and move forward.

“I just want to win again,” he continued, “and now it’s about working toward the Bellator title. I want to fight at 145 (pounds) against hopefully a big name, because I think I come in as a pretty big prospect, some hype around me, coming in with Bellator, so hopefully they’ll put me in with a guy who’s going to push me forward, toward that contender status.”



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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