Elite training partners can go a long way for a fighter, and Jared Kilkenny had just that.
Kilkenny (13-9) will take to the cage in his hometown Friday night to square off with Craig Hudson (4-6), fighting out of Brantford, Ont., in a professional heavyweight main event showdown at Rumble in the Cage 58 in Lethbridge, Alta. at the Servus Sports Centre.
Since his last fight in November, Kilkenny, 36, has had the pleasure of working with Roy Nelson and Arjan Bhullar.
Kilkenny was invited to Las Vegas by Nelson to be his primary training partner ahead of his Bellator matchup with Matt Matrione. Similarly, Bhullar also invited him out to Richmond, B.C. to help in his preparations for his upcoming UFC bout with Adam Wieczorek on April 14.
“Being as big as I am, I can be hard on some of my local training guys. They’re all super tough guys, but when you have 100 pounds on somebody, it’s not always the best situation,” said Kilkenny in an interview.
“With Nelson and Bhullar, it was great. I didn’t have to hold back with my sparring, and could just let it fly.”
When Kilkenny first received the offer to fight Hudson, he was ecstatic. He said it’s been tough for him to find willing opponents recently, so he’s very thankful for Hudson stepping to the plate.
Given Hudson’s striking style, Kilkenny said he’s expecting him to want to “stand and bang,” which Kilkenny is all game for.
“Even though I’d most likely have an advantage on the ground, I think my pride and ego tend to keep it on the feet,” said Kilkenny.
“I think that’s what the fans like to see. Everybody likes a big knockout, so why not?”
Entering Friday night’s contest, Kilkenny is still fresh off a knockout victory over Tyler King in November at Rumble in the Cage 56, while Hudson will be coming off a lengthy layoff, not having fought since Oct. 2015.
Despite Hudson’s layoff, Kilkenny said he’s been training and preparing the same way as if Hudson had fought four times in the last year, and won’t make the mistake of taking him lightly.
“I’m expecting the best Craig Hudson there’s ever been, and that anyone’s ever seen,” said Kilkenny.
“I want to expect him to come in at a high level, with great training and conditioning. That’s what I’m expecting, and that’s what I’m preparing for.”
At the age off 44, and with 10 professional bouts under is belt, Hudson said layoffs and cage rust aren’t a factor at this point of his career.
Hudson still believes he can step in the cage and hit just as hard as anyone else, and there’s no layoff that’ll change that.
Main Event of the Evening! #RITC58 features JARED KILKENNY vs CRAIG HUDSON in a Heavyweight MMA scrap you don’t wanna miss #BeThereWithUs #RumbleNation #MMA #YQL #canadianheavyweights @kilkenny_mma @craig.j.hudson https://t.co/6LTTYZuyla pic.twitter.com/B64UHZxF97
— Blair Foster (@bfofinguy) March 25, 2018
“I can bang and hit just as strong as any of the new guys coming up in the game right now,” said Hudson in an interview.
“I feel very good for my age.”
In his 10 career fights, Hudson has yet to have a contest go the distance, win or lose.
Hudson said when you have two 220-pound-plus guys in a cage, it’s no surprise he’s yet to go the distance.
“You can’t really make any mistakes when you have two big guys training to knock each other out,” said Hudson.
“There’s no room for error.”
Hudson enters Friday night’s main event looking to break a three-fight losing streak, while Kilkenny has won two straight fights since returning in 2017 from a five-and-a-half-year layoff.
But despite the record and recent form favouring Kilkenny, Hudson said he believes Kilkenny’s in for a shock.
“I think he’s in trouble. He’s got a fight on his hands,” said Hudson.
“He might think an old, 44-year-old man is coming, but it’s going to be an eye-opener.”