Jeremy Kennedy doesn’t buy that Patricio Pitbull is ‘washed’ after 2 losses, but ‘nobody is young forever’

Jeremy Kennedy had already accepted that he wasn’t getting a title shot in his Bellator return, but an unfortunate set of circumstances changed his fortune at a moment’s notice.

Originally scheduled to fight James Gallagher at the upcoming Bellator card in Belfast on Friday, Kennedy felt like he couldn’t wait any longer for a potential title shot, so he jumped at the chance to fight again. In the meantime, he kept a watchful eye on Bellator featherweight champion Patricio Pitbull, who booked a fight against PFL champion Jesus Pinedo in February. Then the matchup fell apart just days before the event.

Pinedo had to drop off the card, and a last-minute effort to put PFL veteran Gabriel Braga in the fight was scrapped as well. That’s when Kennedy finally got the call he always wanted.

“When Braga stepped in to do the PFL vs. Bellator thing, I thought it was a better matchup for Pitbull,” Kennedy told MMA Fighting. “I was rooting for Pitbull because I knew I would be fighting him next. I wanted him to be coming off a win and not lose any stock. I wanted him to look his best.

“It was that Friday morning, weigh-in day in Saudi Arabia and late Thursday night here, and I got the call, ‘Pitbull’s opponent is not weighing in, he’s not fighting,’ and they know Pitbull wants to fight regardless. ‘Would you be interested?’ I was like, ‘Don’t even ask me! Just say yes!’”

The only real change for Kennedy was switching from three rounds to five rounds for a title fight, but he had already prepared for an eventual showdown with Pitbull long before that.

Kennedy promises to be more than ready to take the title from the incumbent champion.

“I was already training for the fight, already training for that date,” he said. “I got a bigger fight, a bigger opponent. It’s what I’ve been waiting for. I was ready to go for him and so the switch favored me, it benefited me. I was ready to go.”

Kennedy draws Pitbull at an interesting crossroads in the Brazilian’s career; Pitbull looks to bounce back from two straight losses, including a first-round knockout he suffered in a short-notice fight against Chihiro Suzuki in RIZIN. That fight took place at 154 pounds, which came barely six weeks after Pitbull lost a lopsided decision to Sergio Pettis in a failed attempt to become bantamweight champion.

To add to that, Pitbull turns 37 in July and has more than 40 fights on his résumé.

Kennedy isn’t counting on a diminished version of Pitbull greeting him in the cage on Friday, though he expects to find out rather quickly if the Brazilian really has lost a step or not.

“Any time you see a guy in the lighter weight classes, getting up there in the 30s and the amount of fights — that’s miles, that’s weight cuts, that’s training camps — nobody is young forever,” Kennedy said. “Father time rules.

“[But] I don’t think his performances have [shown] he’s washed now or he’s shot or anything. That fight in Japan, he had fought six weeks earlier down two weight classes essentially and then a three-day notice [fight]. I think Chihiro is a really, really decorated kickboxer that nobody really knew about. In a ring, short notice, I don’t really hold much weight outside of physically seeing him get hurt, is good for my confidence. He is human.”

Truth be told, Kennedy hopes Pitbull is still the same savage that knocked out future UFC title contender Michael Chandler in 61 seconds. It would mean a lot more to take the belt off that guy than a husk of the fighter routinely called the Bellator GOAT.

“I’ve always all along felt that I matched up well with him,” Kennedy said. “Now I get to prove that. Timing is everything. I don’t think it’s done him any favors. I’m anticipating the best but I could very well go out there and blast right through him, or it could be the [best] Pitbull, and he’s doing this thing and I’m in trouble and it’s a long, five-round fight. I still believe I’m better than him everywhere.”

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