After setting out the majority of the first part of 2022 due to injury, featherweight Jeremy Kennedy was able to finally get back into the cage at Bellator 285 and have his long-delayed bout with Aaron Pico.
Following the end of the fight’s first round, Kennedy was able to pick up a win when Pico couldn’t continue due to a shoulder injury. The win capped off Kennedy’s 2022 in a good way following his rocky start.
“It was good fight-wise because I got the win, but I wanted to stay a little more active,” Kennedy told MMAWeekly.com. “The injury earlier on the year didn’t help. So 2022 is kind of mixed feelings. I wanted to stay busy,
“I was given the fights, I was able to stay busy (in the gym), but injuries happen in this sport, so that was kind of bittersweet. To end the year strong, get the next win, and already have my next fight booked heading into the New Year, all in all 2022 was a good year.”
Aside from rehabbing his injury, Kennedy’s time in the gym paid off as he feels he was able to showcase the next level of his game in his win over Pico.
“I just (was) skill building the whole time,” said Kennedy. “I was training for a fight the whole year pretty much. So I think 2022 set me up for a big 2023.
“That Pico fight was big for me just in the preparation. It made me turn a whole new leaf of training and preparing for these fights. All that built into showing that I truly belong there, at the top, co-main event, main event, the media days, everything that comes with being higher up in the division.”
This Saturday in Dublin, Ireland, Kennedy (18-3) will look to pick up his third straight victory when he faces Pedro Carvalho (13-6) in the 145lb co-main event if Bellator 291.
“I think getting the win is just showing up and performing the way I do,” Kennedy said. “I’m in shape, I’m good to go, and skill for skill I think I’ll be too much more for (Carvalho) everywhere.
“It’s just a matter of not giving him any inches to try to steal these rounds or rally late or anything like that. That’s what he’s been able to do his last two wins; guys get tired and he steals rounds; but I know that’s not part of my game – I’ll be able to go full-tilt for 15 minutes straight at a high pace.”
For Kennedy the biggest thing in 2023 is continuing to make moves up towards a title shot, which he feels will start with a big win on Saturday night.
“This is my route to the title,” said Kennedy. “I’ve been in Bellator for two, three years now, and we’ve been chipping away at these rankings, and we’re here and one more step (forward).
“You can try to control that as much as you can and set these bench marks and what not, but for me, it’s just you call, you tell me who I’m fighting, I prepare my absolute best, I show up and I win these fights. Each fight gets bigger and bigger after that if you keep winning, so here I am again. This one is bigger than the last and the next one will get bigger than this one.”