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Featherweight prospect Jeremy Kennedy explains why he’s no longer on UFC roster

Jeremy Kennedy throws a punch at Kyle Bochniak during their fight at UFC on FOX 25 in July 2017.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Jeremy Kennedy was undefeated until his last fight, is just 25 years old and remains a top featherweight prospect out of Canada. So, it came as a surprise this week when news broke that the UFC veteran — who is 3-1 in that promotion — signed recently with Brave CF.

Kennedy told MMA Fighting on Friday that his UFC contract expired following a loss to Alexander Volkanovski in February and, after a negotiation with matchmaker Sean Shelby, he was told that it would be a few months at least before he gets a new deal.

With that second-round TKO loss at UFC 221 still on his mind and being uncomfortable waiting, Kennedy said he jumped at the chance to fight for Middle Eastern promotion Brave while things with the UFC get sorted. The signing was first reported by MMA Sucka.

“I was kind of waiting, hoping even like a short-notice thing would speed things up, which it has for a lot of fighters trying to re-negotiate,” Kennedy said. “I just can’t wait forever, you know? [Shelby] even said, ‘I would never tell you to wait if there’s no guarantees.’ I’m on great terms with the UFC right now, so it’s alright.

“I just had to keep the ball rolling, especially after my last fight. The last thing I wanted was a really long layoff. So the only thing to do is really keep the ball rolling.”

Kennedy, who is currently training in Las Vegas mainly at Xtreme Couture, said he’s targeting his Brave debut sometime in August against an opponent to be named. He’s hoping to use his run there to demonstrate just how valuable he can be to a promotion like the UFC. Kennedy said he is better than the fighter that turned up for his four UFC fights.

“I just think I didn’t make a big enough splash to have that demand in such a populated division right now,” Kennedy said. “I know what I gotta do. I gotta go out there, I gotta finish guys, I’ve gotta put them away dominantly and let the UFC know that I’m one of the best in the world, which I firmly believe.

“A lot of guys don’t know my full potential. People in the gym do, but my fights in the UFC, the three before that, I kind of hit a mindset where I just grind for a takedown as hard as I can, out-grapple these guys. I didn’t get to show my full game.”

The Surrey, British Columbia native holds absolutely no ill will toward the UFC, which remains his goal in the future. In fact, he blames himself for the performance against Volkanovski as the reason why he is no longer in the big-league promotion.

“My last fight definitely didn’t help that,” Kennedy said. “That’s on me. I definitely didn’t show up and do my job. But I think it is a busy division and with all the new avenues — they have the Contender Series, Ultimate Fighter just came out with that 145 [women’s] division, they have Dana White Lookin’ for a Fight, so they have so many avenues for generating new fighters right now, they don’t have patience for guys who are re-signing.”

The plan now is to continue training in Vegas, make a big splash in Brave and hopefully be back in the UFC before he knows it. Kennedy thinks that’s a very achievable proposition.

“The UFC is my end result still,” he said. “I like the relationship that I have still with the UFC now. And I like that I have fights that will keep me busy and the pay is good. Everything is kind of smooth sailing right now. So, I’m not really sour or anything like that, which a lot of people have been reaching out and asking me.”

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