Although it seems as if he’s been around forever, Jeremy Stephens appears to only be getting better.
The 31-year-old known as “Lil Heathen” earned his third consecutive featherweight triumph in the UFC on Fox 28 main event Saturday night, as he knocked out Josh Emmett 1:35 into the second round of their clash at the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla. Stephens dropped his foe with a left hook, and unloaded with a barrage of vicious elbows to the head, eventually knocking Emmett unconscious to earn the finish.
Emmett entered the bout with a considerable amount of hype following a resounding knockout win over Ricardo Lamas at UFC on Fox 26. He lived up to that hype by dropping Stephens in the opening stanza but ultimately paid the price for his willingness to trade with the heavy-handed veteran.
“And now we know who the hardest hitting 145er is,” Stephens said. “Hey, no disrespect. Josh put me down on my butt; I had to get my wits back underneath me. You cannot break me; I am unbreakable. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in my career but that’s a testament to never give up. Emmett was tough, he was doing really good with good movement. No disrespect, I didn’t say anything about them in camp. They are tough.”
In addition to Emmett, Stephens has bested Korean prospect Doo Ho Choi and former lightweight title challenger Gilbert Melendez during his current winning streak. Now 28 bouts into his UFC tenure, the Iowa native believes he has finally earned his crack at championship gold. In the aftermath of his win over Emmett, Stephens pleaded his case to UFC President Dana White.
“We are putting on a show. Dana give me my title shot,” Stephens said. “There are only three guys in front of me. Three. Please give it to me. Always putting on a show. They can run but they can’t hide. I’m coming.”
Stephens still might have some time to wait to get what he wants. Frankie Edgar and Brian Ortega are scheduled to square off in the UFC 222 main event, and the winner will presumably receive a title shot against Max Holloway at a later date.