With 31 professional fights behind him, the United States’ Jeremy “Ponyboy” Pender (17-14) is set to defend his bantamweight title against Canada’s Terry “Good Time” Lemaire (5-2) in the main event of B2 Fighting Series 125 in Dayton, Ohio on Saturday night.
The last time Pender, 34, graced the cage was in a brilliant submission victory over James Porter at Colosseum Combat 51 back in 2019.
In his time off, Pender has been able to hone his skills and he said he’s excited to get back to work and show them off on fight night.
“Honestly, as far as my skill improvement and my career in general, I think COVID was actually a blessing in disguise. I was able to take time to just focus on learning and improving. I really like fighting, it’s always a challenge,” Pender said in an interview with MMA Empire.
“It’s most challenging finding the discipline to get ready for the fight. Sometimes, at the regional level, there’s not a lot of stuff going on, not a lot of big names or big fights and it’s harder to get pumped up for them. I definitely found the discipline lately to really focus and train like every single fight is the most important fight I’ve had.”
Pender has been impressive of late, reeling off three straight wins by submission, capturing both the Colosseum Combat and HRMMA bantamweight titles in the process.
The brand new B2 Fighting Series bantamweight title will be on the line in this next bout and Pender is looking forward to having a real good time at the expense of Lemaire.
“I think I operate at a higher level in every single facet of MMA and hopefully he brings a completely different version of himself into the fight or I don’t think it’s going to be very competitive,” Pender said.
Pender will undoubtedly make his cage walk on Saturday night with the crowd in his corner, but once the cage door locks he’s always believed it makes no difference.
Pender is focused on his fourth straight win and nothing else.
“I’ve fought a bunch of times in front of a lot of different crowds and it really doesn’t matter,” Pender said.
“I spent the first half of my career going into other people’s towns and beating them up, so I know how Terry is going to feel. But as far as this one is concerned, it is much closer to my hometown. It’s going to be my night, everyone is going to be cheering for me, it’s my show.”
Pender is expecting Lemaire to have a similar approach to most of his past opponents and although he said he’d love to have a straight kickboxing match, he expects Lemaire will be the first one to initiate the grappling.
“That’s the game plan usually for everyone, they’ll come in and try to stand,” Pender said.
“I usually don’t get submissions because I don’t pull guard or take people down. I get subs because I’ve hurt people or surprised them on the feet and I catch them coming in or they’re already hurt by the time we hit the ground. I think that Terry is going to be very surprised when he tries to stand with me and it doesn’t end up the way he thinks it’s going to be. I think within the first three minutes he’s going to try and push me against the fence, look for takedowns and hold on. I’d say he gets hurt and he starts trying to make it a grappling match and that’s where I catch him.”
At 34 years old, time is likely running out for Pender if he wants to have a crack on the big stage.
Pender said there was a point in time where he tried to accept he’s not going to be in a position for a UFC opportunity, but after the recent run he’s been on and the shape he’s currently in he’s reignited that flame.
“For a couple years I kind of tried to make peace with never getting a shot, or that I’ll never fight in the UFC. But the last few fights, and specifically this camp, my body is changing. I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in my life,” Pender said.
“I’ve found my groove in terms of how to train and not beat up my body and it’s paid off huge. I’m not at all looking past any of my fights, but I feel like after this camp I can definitely compete and win fights in the UFC without a doubt.”
“Training partners, coaches and family at Vision MMA and Fitness, and all my sponsors.” Follow Pender on social media: INSTAGRAM