SURREY — Jeremy Kennedy flew into Perth, Australia a week early to prepare for the biggest fight of his UFC life.
The Surrey-based MMA athlete will battle home-country favourite Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 221 on Saturday (Feb. 10).
“JBC,” as the affable Kennedy is nicknamed, is 3-0 in Ultimate Fighting Championship action since his first fight for the organization, against Alessandro Ricci at Rogers Arena in Vancouver in August 2016.
Since then, he took down Boston-based Kyle Bochniak in Uniondale, New York last summer, and defeated Brazilian challenger Rony Jason on his home turf a few months before that.
And now, he’s set to take on Volkanovski in his home and native land. “It’s starting to become a bit of my trademark to go beat these guys in their hometown, and it’s a nice feather in the cap,” Kennedy told the Now-Leader.
“I think the UFC appreciates it as well, how willing I am to take these fights that a lot of others won’t. It’s also not a bad way to see the world – although fighting at home is still what would be ideal for me next, to help familiarize myself with the Canadian crowd.”
Kennedy has studied Volkanovski since August, when buzz about their fight began to build. The fight was originally supposed to take place in Sydney in November, but got pushed to February.
“He’s a very well-rounded fighter,” Kennedy wrote in response to questions sent by Twitter messenger. “He’s versatile everywhere, but I just think I’m better in every aspect and I’ll have to be sharp in all facets of the game and can’t get caught sleeping in any of the exchanges on the mat, against the fence or on the feet. The key is to outwork him.”
No question, this will be Kennedy’s biggest test yet in the UFC octagon.
“My previous opponents were all probably more dangerous in one aspect only, but lacked the well-roundness that Alex possesses. He’s going to be someone that will test me everywhere,” Kennedy noted.
With another win, Kennedy will only rise among the ranks of Canadian MMA fighters.
“I really hope so,” Kennedy responded when asked about the possibility of becoming a “fan favourite” in Canada. “With my age and the rate I’m improving, I don’t see how I won’t become the go-to fighter for Canadian fans, especially if I keep defending the flag in these foreign countries.”
Locally, Kennedy trains at gyms in Langley, Pitt Meadows, Surrey, Coquitlam and Abbotsford.
“So I am a full-blown B.C. athlete,” the 25-year-old noted.
“I started making more trips down to Vegas for some training there, and that has become a secondary spot for me that I’ll continue to do in the future,” the Fleetwood Park Secondary grad added.
In a 2016 interview with the Now-Leader, Kennedy recalled the details of his first MMA fight, which took place during a charity event at Relate Church on 152nd Street in Surrey.
“It was 2009, and it was down the street from my house in a church there,” Kennedy said. “It was pretty crazy, and I was 16 years old with braces and a head full of hair and fighting a 24-year-old, or something like that, and I won.”
He had little idea about what he was getting himself into that night, Kennedy admitted.
“I kind of thought I would be fighting with shin guards and headgear and everything, but we showed up and it was small gloves, full MMA, ground and pound and everything, so that was fun,” he remembered with a laugh.
“But my parents weren’t too happy about that. They had to sign a release, and that’s not what they were expecting going into it.”