Jeremy Stephens may have 30 bouts’ UFC experience to his credit, but that doesn’t mean he is above learning from new training partners.
Stephens revealed on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show that he spent about a month training with top lightweight contender Tony Ferguson in Big Bear Lake, Calif., as he prepared for his headlining bout against Yair Rodriguez at UFC Fight Night 159 on Saturday.
“Lil Heathen” connected with Ferguson through his management, and having another opportunity to train at altitude prior to his trip to Mexico City was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
"I saw Tony Ferguson, [and] I knew he trained at high altitude," Stephens told Helwani. "I was talking to him, talking about going to Big Bear. I went up there, trained with him a little bit, got some experience and got some great knowledge from him.”
According to Stephens, the sessions were intense. Ferguson has established himself as the likely next challenger for the UFC lightweight title thanks to an impressive 12-bout winning streak that includes triumphs over the likes of Donald Cerrone, Anthony Pettis, Kevin Lee, Rafael dos Anjos and Edson Barboza.
"Training with a guy like Tony Ferguson, who's one of the top [fighters] in the world, who is more than deserving of a title shot, has so much knowledge and experience of beating guys asses, it was incredible," Stephens said. "We trained probably 6½ hours straight, and then we'd take a little break. We'd watch 'Rocky 4,' and then we went on midnight runs, [or] 1 a.m.”
Stephens plans to link up with Ferguson again after UFC Mexico City.
"It was an incredible experience," Stephens siad. "I actually can't wait to go back and help him train for his upcoming fight, go on them runs, and do that 6½, seven hours, Floyd Mayweather-type training. It's champ s---. The guy's incredible, [but] he's smart. It's not just barbaric work. The guy trains with extreme intelligence.”