British Columbia

Surrey MMA fighter Jeremy Kennedy signs with the UFC

Jeremy Kennedy is an undefeated MMA fighter from Surrey, B.C., who's just signed a contract with the biggest fight promoter in the world, the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

'When I started this whole journey, it was to get to the UFC,' says MMA fighter Jeremy Kennedy

Jeremy "JBC" Kennedy will make his UFC debut at Rogers Arena on August 27 (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

When Jeremy Kennedy found out the Ultimate Fighting Championship would be holding an event in Vancouver, he started spending a lot more time in the gym.

The mixed martial arts fighter based in Surrey, B.C., had a hunch there might be a spot for him in the show.

"I was hoping to get picked up the whole time," said Kennedy, 23. "I was training without a fight being booked."

Jeremy Kennedy started training for the event at Rogers Arena before he knew he was on the card. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

A few weeks later, he got the offer he'd been hoping for: a contract with the UFC, with a spot on the fight league's upcoming event at Rogers Arena.

"I got a call from my manager — he said there's an opportunity [to fight in the UFC]," said Kennedy, who trains at Revolution MMA in Langley.

But there were some conditions to the offer.

"I have to jump up a weight class," he said. "But if the UFC calls, you don't second guess. You just jump all over it."

Kennedy started training in boxing and jiu-jitsu at 13 years old. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

The fight of his life

Kennedy has spent the last three years fighting professionally and has trained in boxing and jiu-jitsu since he was 13. He's one of the top-ranked featherweight contenders in Canada and has an undefeated record with eight victories.

He's even won championships in regional fight promotions — but his goal has always been to make it to the world's largest mixed martial arts organization.

"This is my dream," he said. "When I started this whole journey, it was to get to the UFC. And now that it's here, it's a little surreal."

Kennedy will be making his UFC debut on home soil and admits there's a little bit of added pressure fighting on the biggest stage in MMA.

"I've got a lot of friends and family coming out," he said. "It just gives me that extra push. I don't want to let them down."

Kennedy will be squaring off against another undefeated fighter, Josh Emmet, who has already found success inside the UFC cage. Kennedy is the taller of the two men, an advantage that his teammates think will place him in the win column.

Craig MacLean is helping Kennedy prepare for his first UFC fight. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

"I think Jeremy is going to go out there and shock everyone," said Craig MacLean, Kennedy's friend and training partner.

MacLean says Kennedy's work ethic has elevated the team at Revolution MMA.

"Not only has he performed well in fights, but he's a leader in the team," said MacLean. "You can see, day in and day out, his intensity and competitiveness in the gym, and I take from that. I realize that's how I have to be as well."

Jeremy Kennedy trains at Revolution MMA in Langley. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

A tasty nickname

While Kennedy's teammates will help him stay sharp in the gym, he knows it's up to him to stick to a healthy diet.

In the past, he's had the tendency to binge on fast food.

"In the early days, I wasn't the most disciplined guy," said Kennedy. "I would always be showing up for training, but my diet — I was just so uneducated on it."

When Kennedy's old teammates gave him a hard time for eating out at McDonalds, he decided to make a major dietary shift.

"'A week later they were like, 'So, how's your diet going?' I said 'Good! I switched to Wendy's!'" he said.

"So they started calling me Junior Bacon Cheeseburger."

Jeremy "JBC" Kennedy will enter the UFC Octagon on August 27.