Pedro Carvalho may be Portuguese, but Dublin has become his second home, and he plans on making home advantage count when he takes on Jeremy Kennedy at Bellator 291.

Featherweight contender Carvalho leapt up to the number-three spot in Bellator’s official 145-pound rankings after his hard-earned unanimous decision victory over Mads Burnell at Bellator 285 in September 2022, and, as he told reporters during media day ahead of fight night, his gameplan ahead of fight night at the 3Arena is a simple one.

“Winning, it doesn’t get any simple than that,” he said.

“Just go out there, show that I’m the real number one and show that I’m going to be the champion and make a statement with no doubts.

“This is the number one contender fight. I know after Kennedy I’ll be fighting for the belt.”

Carvalho, who trains out of Dublin’s acclaimed SBG gym, has endured a rollercoaster ride since joining Bellator back in 2018. After upsetting highly-touted Daniel Crawford on his Bellator debut, he then added three more wins, with victories over Luca Vitali, Derek Campos and Sam Sicilia to earn a spot in the Bellator Featherweight World Grand Prix in 2020.

When he was personally selected by defending champion Patricio Pitbull for his first-round matchup, it meant he received a shot at the Bellator featherweight title. But the Brazilian was too good on the night, and finished Carvalho in the first round.

Carvalho then alternated losses and wins as he balanced out losses to Jay Jay Wilson (TKO) and Piotr Niedzielski (split decision) with unanimous decision wins over big-name contenders in Daniel Weichel and Mads Burnell.

Now back in form and eyeing a second run at a title shot, Carvalho plans on defeating Kennedy to press his claims for a shot at the gold and, potentially, a title rematch with Pitbull.

To get there, he must first get past Kennedy, and Carvalho said he has plenty of respect for the Canadian contender, whose last two outings saw him claim victories over Emmanuel Sanchez (unanimous decision) and Aaron Pico (injury TKO) on his record.

“The main thing I see in him is that he’s not flashy. He’s a consistent fighter,” said Carvalho, who said Kennedy offered a tough, but favorable, matchup for him.

“You never see him fighting bad, he always fights consistent. His style of fighting is pretty much the same that happened in my last fight against Mads Burnell. He likes to put you against the fence and eventually try to get a takedown and be happy to stay on top and work the ground and pound.

“I’ve been there so many times, so I think stylistically it’s a great match-up for me and an opportunity for me to go out there and leave no doubt and make a statement.”