Pedro Carvalho seizing the moment as Ireland’s “Adopted Son” and ready to earn a title shot with win over Jeremy Kennedy at Bellator 291

The country of Ireland has a rich and passionate history in the combat sports world, and there’s no better example of this than when Bellator MMA comes to Dublin as they will for Bellator 291 on February 25. The event is usually stacked top to bottom with fighters from Ireland and in the case of Pedro Carvalho, some of those fighters may not be born in Ireland, but have adopted the culture, have built their team in Ireland, and hold the country close to their heart each and every fight.

Born in Portugal, Pedro Carvalho has been with team SBG Ireland in Dublin since he was 21-years old, and despite the fact that he’s seen ups-and-downs in his career, “The Game” believes everything is coming full circle this weekend. Set to face Jeremy Kennedy in what should be viewed as a No. 1 contender fight at Bellator 291, Carvalho isn’t worried about Kennedy who said he’s coming to Ireland and taking everything away from him in their fight, instead, he’s just ready to get back to his winning ways.

If it weren’t for a split decision loss against Piotr Niedzielski at Bellator 280, Carvalho would be on a three-fight winning streak, but coming off the biggest win of his career against Mads Burnell in his last fight, he knows the stakes are incredibly high in this fight. In an interview with MyMMANews, he discusses what’s at stake at Bellator 291, being the “Adopted Son” of Ireland, and more.

“When we get this fight settled, of course it’s not written in the contract but it’s pretty much verbally said that this No. 1 contender fight. Not only was it spoke and settled that way, but it only makes sense. If you count off me and Jeremy, who else is there in the title picture? Borics just fought for the title, AJ McKee shouldn’t even be in the rankings cause he’s a lightweight now, and there’s just people. So Top 5, it’s just me and Jeremy left. I win this fight and I’m fighting for the belt.”

Despite the fact he previously came up short in his quest for the title against Patricio Pitbull back in 2020, Carvalho knows the chance to earn a title shot with a win over Kennedy in Dublin, is something special to him. Having taking knowledge from his previous losses, it feels as if everything is coming full circle in his quest back to the top of the division.

“If there’s a thing that I learned with all this journey and I don’t like to say failures, I like to say knowledge lessons, I have to take things step-by-step. I know, it’s not that I believe, I know that I’ll be fighting for the belt, I know I’m going to win this fight. Even though I know all of that, it doesn’t matter, I have to make it happen.

Right now, my head is 100% focused on Jeremy Kennedy and go out there and make a statement. Not only win, but put on a show and make a statement. Only after, I will think about the stars aligning and what it’s become.”

Getting the win is not only meaningful in terms of getting back to a featherweight title fight, but to secure that opportunity in Ireland, Pedro Carvalho knows how special the moment could be. He also reflected on a previous moment when he fought in Ireland and how he was embraced as an Irish fighter and why he fights the way he does for the crowd.

“Fighting in Dublin is always special. It all starts from the camp because every time there’s a Bellator show in Dublin a lot of us from SBG are fighting on that card, so the atmosphere in the gym is amazing. Then, the fight week itself, I can’t put into words how good of a vibe it is. It’s always our party, it’s special.

Then on fight night in 3Arena with the pound-for-pound best crowd in the world, by far, by very far. Having that crowd that is so special on my side, supporting me like they did the very first day I came to this country pursuing my dream. I always fight like a savage but even more because it’s the minimum I can give to these people, giving them a show they will remember.”

Knowing that it’s not all about being a savage in his fights, Pedro Carvalho said he plans to be smart, calculated, and take the knowledge he’s learned in previous fights and apply it to this high-stakes matchup. With everything lined up in his favor, he shared a special moment he had previously fighting in Dublin and why he feels he is the “Adopted Son” of the country.

“In a lot of places, articles and people, I’m kind of known as the Adopted Son, that for me, when I hear that from other people you can only imagine how much of a joy it gives me. I remember the last time I fought here in Dublin against Mads Burnell, there was one day with media and they just joined the Irish fighters, and I was among them. Even though it might seem very random or not important, for me, that was so important. Being called to be among the group of Irish fighters, I was one of the Irish, it was so special for me.

That’s why every time I do that walk, I carry with big pride, the Irish flag and I will continue to do it because this is my home as well. I don’t call it my second home, it’s my home, period. The same way that Portugal is my home, Dublin, Ireland is my home and I will forever represent for the color of this flag, the same way I fight for the color of the Portugal flag. We’re just getting started.

Getting started on his second journey to a title fight opportunity, Pedro Carvalho carries the pride of two countries with him and with the knowledge of his previous fights, the Adopted Son of Ireland is ready to put on a show.

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Mike Pendleton
Mike Pendleton is a current contributor to MyMMANews while also hosting his "On The Mic" podcast and is a former Associate Producer at Sirius XM's Fight Nation. With a special passion for interviewing and talking to the very best around the fight game, you can read or listen to Mike's work across his multiple outlets. Follow me on Twitter: @MP2310