Jeremy Kennedy will step back into the Bellator cage at Bellator 291 on February 25 in Dublin, Ireland.
That night, he’ll be faced with a tough test in the form of Pedro Carvalho, who’s coming off of the biggest victory of his Bellator career over Mads Burnell — a teammate of Kennedy’s. The featherweight bout will likely decide who receives the next title shot at the legendary Patricio Pitbull, an opponent that Kennedy has been preparing to fight for some time.
“It’s nice to earn my title shot against a guy in his own hometown, someone ranked higher than me again,” Kennedy told Cageside Press recently. “This will be my fourth top five guy in a row, this is my route to the title. I’m coming after Pitbull after this and I’m excited for it,” Kennedy said.”
The two top-5 Bellator featherweights will meet on Carvalho’s turf, though Kennedy is no stranger to infiltrating enemy territory.
“I’ve [fought internationally] my whole career prior to these last few years, fighting in Brazil, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Australia. I’m comfortable and used to flying and going into my opponents’ backyards,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy fought in the UFC from 2016-2018, winning three consecutive fights before losing to current UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski. Kennedy moved on to Brave CF where he’d fight twice, earning two knockout victories before heading to PFL. Kennedy finally found a home with Bellator in 2020, where he plans to stay for the foreseeable future after inking his second contract with the promotion.
“I’m capped at Bellator — this is my home. I love it here…this is my time to get this #1 contender fight, fight for the belt shortly after that this year,” Kennedy said. “I just signed my first second contract — so Bellator is for sure my home.”
In addition to Kennedy’s “JBC” nickname, which stands for Junior Bacon Cheeseburger, Kennedy is well-known for his unusual training camp superstitions and unique victory celebrations.
“I [dye my hair platinum] at the start of every camp, pretty much right at the eight-week mark. It’s kind of a tradition, I got a lot of little superstitious things I do throughout camp,” Kennedy said. “I like routine and I’m not big on change, so I like to find what works for me, just trial and error through all these camps to keep adding to my regime.”
While the platinum has begun to fade from Kennedy’s naturally brown hair, the eighteen tally marks tattooed on his rib cage will remain in place forever. Within a few weeks of each of Kennedy’s eighteen professional MMA wins, he has inked a tally mark on his rib cage to symbolize another rigorous and victorious training camp. He intends to pay his tattoo artist a few more visits in the coming months.
“2023 we have to get three. We’re starting pretty early in February, fight again in the summer, then again near the end of the year — get a nice three tallies,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy will look to make a statement in his 2023 debut against Pedro Carvalho, and cash his ticket to a featherweight championship bout with Pitbull next summer. While “JBC’s” sights are set on Bellator gold, Kennedy knows better than to overlook a game opponent in Carvalho.
“Pedro finds a way to win, he’s resilient, he has a good gas tank, and he just keeps coming forward he knows how to steal these rounds,” Kennedy said. “I just have to make sure I don’t give him an inch, I’m just going full-force. I’m trying to get the finish here.”
Jeremy Kennedy faces Pedro Carvalho at Bellator 292 on February 25, 2023 at 3Arena in Dublin, Ireland.