Official tryouts for the next season of The Ultimate Fighter are set to take place on April 27th in Las Vegas and there will be no shortage on Canadian talent for the 155lb and 170lb selection process. Leading up to this audition of a lifetime, I’ll be featuring a recurring article on MMAOddsBreaker where I put the spotlight on those Canadian fighters making the trip down to Sin City later this month. Name: Jeremy “JBC” Kennedy Age: 22 Height: 5’11 Weight Class: Featherweight (competing at Lightweight) Record: 7-0 (3 KO/TKO, 2 Sub, 2 Dec.) Fighting Out Of: Surrey, British Columbia (Revolution MMA) Last Fight: Won via Unanimous Decision over Mario Pereira (BFL 34) Jan. 2015 Fun Fact: Spent most of 2014 training and competing in Thailand One of the best kept secrets North of the Border, Kennedy is set to enter TUF 22 tryouts as one of the youngest lightweights in the competition. Fans and pundits often forget how young Kennedy actually is, especially with how much he’s already accomplished in his short career. But hearing the story of how his nickname “JBC’ – which stands for Junior Bacon Cheeseburger – came to fruition, it’s a reminder that perhaps he’s still young at heart. “I was kind of the junior of [my] team and I was uneducated on diet and what I had to be eating.” Kennedy told MMAOddsBreaker. “My old teammates Jacen Brooks, [Shawn] Albrecht all those guys at West Coast MMA [gave me the nickname because] I was always eating bad food, They [eventually] told me to stop. I thought switching McDonalds to Wendy’s was proper because I thought it was healthier.” Kennedy started training jiu-jitsu at an early age and made the transition to MMA shortly after that. Making his amateur debut in 2010, Kennedy competed for local promotion Battlefield Fight League which was hosting both pro and amateur bouts for their events. After amassing an impressive 6-1 record, the Surrey native made his pro debut in 2013, defeating Dan Lin by unanimous decision at BFL 24. One of Kennedy s biggest influences in the sport was none other than two division UFC champion BJ Penn. “BJ Penn was always my favourite fighter. I think he was the first guy I watched fight. Him [and] Matt Hughes – where he chocked [him out to win] the welterweight title, that’s the first fight I watched. That was what really made me want to switch over from jiu-jitsu to MMA. Just because I liked his style, I liked how he was so good on the ground and he liked the standup. He was probably my favourite fighter and the fighter I looked up to.” Last year Kennedy decided to broaden his MMA career and gain some new experiences. While he was getting no shortage of fights in his home province of British Columbia, the Surrey native was yearning for something more. He came across a Facebook Ad that would change his entire 2014. Kennedy ended up training and competing for Team Quest in Thailand for the majority of the year and even blogged about it on MMASucka.com. “On Facebook I saw an ad that they were sponsoring fighters. So I didn’t really think much of it, I just kind of filled out an application and fired it off.” Kennedy explained. “Just thinking what can an email hurt. Then they got back to me, and they were interested I guess because of my age. They wanted young prospect guys to kind of build. That’s what they were looking for, and it just so happened that I fell into that category. [It] was awesome. I spent a year out there, like all of 2014. It was just a culture shock, like how they live and stuff like that. It was also a good way to just focus on fighting, no bills, and no responsibilities. All I had to do is wake up and train. I had a lot of downtime to work on things like marketing. It was a good start to my career.” However not everything went exactly as planned. Close to a year ago, Kennedy was involved in a serious motorcycle accident in Thailand which almost cost him his life. He detailed the list of injuries he suffered in his travel blog. “The final list of injuries of my accident were –10 stitches in my right ear, 40 stitches under my left eye and 20 above it. As well as a fractured orbital bone and an estimated 100+ stitches across the back of my head with severe road rash along both legs, arms, shoulders, back and hips.” For Kennedy it was a wakeup call and a reminder not to take his life for granted. He believes learning from that experience helped him refocus on the important aspects of his MMA career. “It just made me realize, I got to treat my body like my job. It’s what makes me do what I do. It kind of made me realize like training is a privilege. I’ve got to just be maintaining my body. No more extra-curricular activities where I can get hurt or anything like that. I’m still going to have fun at the same time, it’s a fine line. Anything from mountain biking to riding scooters, you have to get your priorities right. It was just like a big wakeup call and what I got to straighten up on.” Kennedy would bounce back from his injuries and he recently picked up a win this past January at BFL 34 – he defeated Mario Pereira by unanimous decision – to keep his undefeated record in tact. While he’s competed at featherweight throughout his career, Kennedy has no issues going to the tryouts in a weight class above for lightweight. “I’m actually happy [the tryouts are] at 155 pounds. Since my last fight I’ve put on quite a bit of size, just from getting older, now I’m 22. I’m finally now becoming my ‘old man strength’ sort of speak. Making the cut down to 145 pounds would have been pretty tough even if it was just the one time. 155 pounds still going to be a bit of a cut. My height doesn’t make [me] an undersized guy, I’m six feet tall. Most lightweights are around that height anyways. Where if I was one of these 5’6 featherweights that was stocky, that would be kind of hard to move to lightweight. Because you’d be giving up such a reach advantage and a height advantage.” In preparation for the tryouts, Kennedy is training at Revolution MMA in Langley, B.C. which is headed by ONE FC bantamweight champion Bibiano Fernandes. Kennedy explained that he decided to leave West Coast MMA after many of his former teammates had left. One of Kennedy’s mentor’s at West Coast MMA, is Shawn Albrecht, who’s also attending the tryouts and spoke with MMAOddsBreaker last week about it. While the two are close friends, Kennedy is adamant it will all be business if they end up facing each other in the competition. “Fighting to get in the house, that would kind of be a crappy situation [but] we’d deal with it, we have both of our goals in mind. Our friendship, we could fight everyday in the gym, why not make it better for ourselves?” Another friend and training partner making the trip down to Vegas later this month is Sabah Fadai, who tried out last season for TUF Nations: Canada vs. Australia and explained why he didn’t make the cut. Kennedy says spoke to Fadai already, to get a sense of what he can expect during the selection process. “I was talking to Fadai, [he] just kind of [told] me the motions of it. It’s nothing I’m going to be worried about. I’m just going out there, have fun and hopefully get on the show. ” Heading into the tryouts, Kennedy believes youth will be on his side. As the Revolution MMA product points out, for being just 22-years old he already has plenty of experience. “That’s huge; I think my age is going to be a big factor in even making a show. The reason why the Ultimate Fighter was even brought in was to build up these young guys. Bring them through the ranks that way. I think my age helps, I’m 7-0, 22 years old, I think that’s the market they’re looking far. And being 22 years old, including my amateur fights I have 16 fights under my belt so I’m not inexperienced in the slightest.” A challenge for every competitor heading into the competition is the ability to separate themselves from the rest of the fighters. While Kennedy has every intention to stand out, he’s not going to compromise his integrity in order to be someone else. “A lot of people are like ‘you got to go in with a big personality’ I don’t want to have to fake something. I’m just kind going to go and be who I am. Hopefully my statistics, like my record and age help me. I’m just going to go and smile a lot. And just try to be as energetic as possible but again still being myself.” Some fighters in Kennedy’s situation would feel the pressure of being an undefeated fighter heading into a competition like this. But the Canadian standout feels like if anything it will help motivate him more to compete. As he’s constantly looking for new challenges in his MMA career. “I think [being undefeated] that helps if anything, I’m ready to test myself. Obviously when you’re undefeated it kind of shows there’s a gap, so I hope closing that gap, I go into the Ultimate Fighter I can test myself against the countries best.” You can follow Jeremy on Twitter @JeremyKennedyWC and if you want to support him use the hastag #JBC2UFC.
Disclaimer: This page contains affiliate links and MMA Odds Breaker will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on the links.