Bellator 286: Jeremy Kennedy Hopes McKee Stays At Lightweight After Trying to “Big Time” 145’ers

Jeremy Kennedy, Bellator 253
Jeremy Kennedy, Bellator 253 Credit: Bellator MMA

Although the fight finally arrives this Saturday at Bellator 286, featherweight Jeremy Kennedy (17-3, 1NC) wasn’t entirely sure he’d get his fight with Aaron Pico re-booked.

The pair had been scheduled to face off earlier this year, only for injury to take Kennedy out of it. The match-up staying together was not a given. A lot of that had to do with the status of A.J. McKee, and whether he’d pursue a third fight with Patricio Pitbull. While McKee initially expressed his disinterest, Kennedy told Cageside Press in an exclusive interview that the former champ came around on that front.

“I know he wanted that trilogy. At first he didn’t, but he came around and really wanted that trilogy. I think Bellator was the one who ended up choosing Borics, just because how can you deny Borics? He’s got wins over three of the top five guys, long win streak, new blood,” Kennedy revealed.

“I just think it was more of a Bellator decision, and A.J. was already on the fence about going up. He didn’t like making the weight.”

McKee will debut at lightweight this Saturday, the same night that Borics fights 145lb champ Patricio Pitbull, and Kennedy faces Pico.

“Honestly I hope he [McKee] kind of just stays up there. He’s trying to Hollywood and big time the featherweights, picking and choosing his match-ups, and the show goes on. I think there’s a lot of good talent that needs to be fighting for that belt now.”

What forced Kennedy out of the original Pico date was a broken orbital, suffered in his final day of sparring.

“I haven’t fought since December, but I’ve had two full camps. It was this time last camp, it was the Wednesday leading into Fight Week that I got the news that I fractured my orbital on my last day of sparring,” Kennedy explained. “It was kind of like a freak accident, it was a knuckle to the cheek bone. It kind of just felt like a rock, it wasn’t a big punch or anything, it just was like a fluke accident. My teeth went numb, so I had to get a CT scan. The result came back that there was a minor fracture in the orbital; they wouldn’t let me fight with it already comprised. If it were to collapse, it would be a real long road to recovery.”

Kennedy noted that he was the only one to really lose there — Pico went on to fight a replacement opponent, while Kennedy himself put in time and money to improve, then didn’t get to showcase it.

On the bright side, he now has the same opportunity in front of him. “At this stage, and in the landscape of the division, this is the fight that made the most sense, and the biggest fight for me. The biggest opportunity. And now it’s on a great card, with the title fight on the same card. It all worked out well, and I’m just glad to see it re-booked.”

Kennedy doesn’t see weakness in Pico, who has been on a tear of late. But there are questions regarding the featherweight, and the Canadian believes he has the answer.

“As far as weaknesses go, not necessarily weaknesses but more so questions. He hasn’t shown any weakness but he hasn’t had much resistance in there,” Kennedy opined. “He’s been doing what he’s supposed to be doing to these guys. So there is a lot of question marks on his full game of, dealing with adversity, getting put on his back, dealing with a good grappler, dealing with guys that can compete with him in these areas — and I’m looking to do that.”

“He obviously stumbled early on, but I think he was rushed a little bit. Now, I think he’s developed,” Kennedy later added. “He’s a full complete fighter with the losses behind him.” One who Kennedy believes has a bit of a chip on his shoulder. As for where a win over Pico leaves him, “I don’t think there’s anything else outside of the title.”

The title fight between Patricio Pitbull and Adam Borics being on the same card, “it’s already going to have a lot of interest,” Kennedy suggested. “You’re either getting the rematch in Pitbull, or the rematch in Borics. And that’s for both of us. So I think this is billed as a number one contender’s fight.”

Jeremy Kennedy takes on Aaron Pico this Saturday, October 1, 2022 in Long Beach, CA.