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Podcast callout leads to fight for B.C. featherweight Jeremy Kennedy

UFC fights can start in all sorts of places. For Canadian featherweight Jeremy (JBC) Kennedy, the seed for Saturday's showdown with Kyle (Crash) Bochniak was planted in a podcast.

UFC fights can start in all sorts of places. For Canadian featherweight Jeremy (JBC) Kennedy, the seed for Saturday's showdown with Kyle (Crash) Bochniak was planted in a podcast.

Bochniak (7-1-0) got the ball rolling when he suggested Kennedy would be an interesting opponent.

"He's a good candidate, he's 2-0 in the UFC. We'll see who's the real prospect," the American told the UFC Fan Page podcast April 23. "That fight makes a lot of sense."

The matchup got some traction on social media with Bochniak fuelling the fire.

"Get off your knees @JeremyKennedyWC If we get matched up I'll dig your grave for free," he tweeted.

Kennedy (10-0-0) took up the challenge: "You should get down on your knees and be grateful I'm even interested in this matchup. You're 0-2 in the @ufc."

Bochniak, 30, is actually 1-1 in the UFC but the win, over Enrique Barzola last August, was via split decision. 

Kennedy guested on the next edition of the podcast May 9, offering his take on Bochniak's brash challenge.

"That's easy money. I would love to give him a beating," said the 24-year-old from Surrey, B.C.

The social media to-and-fro continued, with MMA media and ultimately the UFC itself taking notice. The bout was announced May 24.

"Let the madness begin!" tweeted Bochniak. 

The talk ends Saturday night when the two 145-pounders meet on the undercard of a televised card in Uniondale, N.Y.

Former middleweight champion Chris (the All-American) Weidman faces Kelvin Gastelum at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Weidman (13-3-0) is ranked fifth among 185-pound contenders while Gastelum (14-2-0) is No. 8.

Kennedy says while he has no problem with being called out, he was no fan of some of the trash-talking that ensued.

"I've got to get used to that," he said. "It bugs me to an extent but now that the fight's signed and I'm ready to go, I'm excited about it."

Kennedy proved he had a cool head last time out in March when he braved a hostile crowd in Fortaleza, Brazil, to win a unanimous decision over local boy Rony Jason.

Fighting out of Boston, Bochniak will be bringing some supporters to suburban New York.

"Nothing will be worse than Brazil I don't think," said Kennedy, noting fans at the weigh-in and during his entrance to the arena were chanting he was going to die.

Kennedy found himself in some tough positions during the Jason fight, absorbing a double knee to the head at one point.

"Prior to that I'd never really been hurt in a fight," he said. "That was a huge confidence booster and just an experience gained, to be able to take something like that and then be able to come back in the third round — and win a 10-8 (round) even on one of the judge's scorecard."

Kennedy won his UFC debut in Vancouver last August when, fighting as a lightweight, he beat Alessandro Ricci of Woodbridge, Ont., by decision. Ricci was the bigger man but Kennedy wore him down. 

Kennedy works out of Revolution MMA in Langley, B.C., with One Championship bantamweight title-holder Bibiano Fernandes one of his main training partners.

Kennedy got into MMA because he was tired of being on the wrong end of wrestling tussles with his older brother. At 13, he took a shine to Brazilian jiu-jitsu and started taking part in competitions.

That let to boxing and wrestling and — at 16 — his first MMA fight.

"I won that. And ever since then I've just kept fighting." 

And winning. He marks each victory by adding a stripe to a tattoo on his side.

"Each fight camp I invest so much time and effort and money and everything into it," said Kennedy. "So when I come away with a win, I want to tattoo it on my body and carry it with me forever. It'll be something I look back at when I'm 60 years old and I can see these tallies and remember this time, this period in my life."


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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press