Jeremy Kennedy wants to cement himself among Bellator’s best, and that run continues Friday night.
Kennedy, 28, is now 1-0 under the Bellator MMA banner and looks to emerge victorious again here in his sophomore promotional effort.
His opponent, Borics, was in the featherweight grand prix picture at one point, enters this bout with back-to-back wins and is someone Kennedy is acutely aware of.
“Oh he’s really good. He’s established in Bellator. Out of all the guys that I wanted to fight next, he was right on the top of my list, so it worked out really well when his name came across. It’s not like I even asked for him. I just wanted him and that’s who they sent. That’s who they had in mind,” said Kennedy in an interview with MMA Empire.
“It’s a good fight stylistically for both guys. You see where our strengths lay, where he’s had trouble. I think I have a lot of success in those areas. Him being established, it’s perfect. It’s that next step into the top group of elite featherweights. Bellator’s got one of the best featherweight divisions. When they came up with those rankings, he’s ranked right up there. He was ranked third. So, you got to think a win over him, I’m going to be right up in the mix because the guys above him are all in that grand prix still that’s finishing up. So, the landscape is really well to come in and beat Borics, put on a good showing and put him away. I want the tests and I want to be known as one of the best or the best in Bellator, so this is the route I have to take.”
Kennedy is coming off a successful Bellator debut, earning the unanimous decision win over Matt Bessette at Bellator 253.
Kennedy seems to think the performance was good overall, but maintains a critical and analytical champion mindset about it too.
“I was happy with the result, I was happy with how the fight went. I would love to have got the finish, but I do know you’re fighting the best guys in the world, fighting on the biggest stages in the world, it’s not always going to go that way. But if you can go in there and get a 30-26, you can’t be too hard on yourself,” said Kennedy.
“I think it was a good way to introduce myself to the division. It shows what kind of threats I really do pose, and just how dangerous I can be, how much of a handful I’m going to be with these guys.”
His bout with Bessette was Kennedy’s first time competing since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the no fans in attendance framework, it was a competitive confluence of being akin to a sparring session, but also being noticeably weird for Kennedy.
“It was like a little bit of in-between. The crowd definitely makes it more of a fight feel, where the no crowd kind of is like sparring. You hear your coaches cornering you and it’s a lot more quiet in there. It’s just like some production people and whatnot. But at the same time you’re still trying to inflict the same amount of damage on the guy, and he’s doing the same to you,” said Kennedy.
“The whole lead-ups are a little different, you know the walkouts the announcements and all that. You don’t have the crowd going crazy when they announce your name or whatever, but as soon as you touch gloves and get going, you’re not focusing on anything else anyways. This guy’s trying to hurt you and you’re trying to hurt him.”
After years of going back and forth training between his home province of B.C. and Nevada, Kennedy finally navigated a full-time move to Las Vegas.
Kennedy has been working with fighters like Magomed Magomedov and Islam Makhachev, just a couple of names out of a plethora of talented individuals Kennedy hones skills with.
He said he typically spars in a way where partners mirror the stylistic proclivities of upcoming opponents, but things changed a bit with this camp in that regard.
“I try to really find guys that fight so much like my opponent, but this time I wanted to spar with guys taller. There’s a lot of 145-ers around that are 5’8″, 5’7″, 5’6″, and I just wanted a little bit more of a taller guy because he is my height,” said Kennedy.
Prior to his Bellator debut, Kennedy competed under the PFL banner for their 2019 season, a format which rewards a fighter with a certain number of points based on how they win the fight.
Throughout his PFL run, Kennedy found himself chasing the maximum amount of points and hurriedly rushing the finish, an experience that paid dividends for his combative composure from that point onward.
“Yeah, I’m not going out there to exactly steal the show in a 20-second knockout type thing. I’m going to beat this guy everywhere. I find there’s more dominance in a third-round finish once you’ve established. Anybody can get caught, it’s a fist fight,” said Kennedy.
“But if you can go out there and out-strike this guy, take him down, beat him up on the ground. He gets up, he gets tired, whatever and then you finish late in the fight, that really shows who the better fighter is. And I think having composure, being calm, and not rushing anything, fighting the way you’re supposed to fight is the best approach now.”