When Surrey-based MMA fighter Jeremy "JBC" Kennedy steps into the cage on Saturday night, he'll be a long way from home.
The undefeated fighter is making his sophomore appearance inside the world-famous UFC octagon. But this time, he won't be fighting in front of his hometown crowd. He'll be squaring off in Fortaleza, Brazil — and he couldn't be more excited.
"I'm feeling great," the 24-year-old fighter told CBC News. "I got the call [to fight] about seven weeks ago and I was pumped."
Kennedy's first outing in the UFC was against fellow Canadian Alessandro Ricci inside Rogers Arena in Vancouver. The B.C.-born fighter had home court advantage and ultimately earned a hard-fought victory over an older and experienced opponent.
But now 'JBC' finds himself on the other side of the cage: he'll be squaring off with Rony Jason, a popular Brazilian fighter and longtime UFC veteran who has come to be a crowd favourite.
Kennedy says the passion of Brazilian fans, known for their raucous boos and chants meant to bring down foreign foes, will be on full display at the 21,000 seat arena.
"He's definitely going to be getting the cheers — but that hasn't fazed me. It'll all just be noise when I get in there," he said. "I don't speak the language, so I won't know what they're saying."
Kennedy hopes to launch his own name off the popularity of Jason. He says a victory would be the biggest win of his career.
"This is for sure my most important fight — I think every fight from here on out will be," he said. "[The fights] will get bigger, with more exposure and tougher opponents."
Kennedy is undefeated in his professional career, a unique feat in a sport where the threat of a loss constantly lingers in your opponent's fist.
But he hopes his perfect record will remain intact come Sunday morning, after he makes his debut in the league's featherweight division — the same weight class that thrust Conor McGregor into super-stardom.
"It will be a great win and a great way to introduce myself to the division."