Lightweights meet Tuesday in Fairfax, Va.
It doesn’t take tremendous investigative skills to realize Jeremy Stephens loves to fight.
Since his arrival in the UFC, the heavy-handed lightweight has become a fan favorite based on an aggressive style and his willingness to exchange in the pocket. Stephens’ standup comes equipped with one-shot put-away power, and his penchant for a healthy scrap has earned “Lil’ Heathen” a handful of fight night bonuses. He will have the opportunity to add to the tally when he squares off with Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone on Monday at UFC on Fuel TV: Korean Zombie vs. Poirier in Fairfax, Va.
After an injury forced MMA veteran Yves Edwards to withdraw from the bout, Stephens stepped up in late February and agreed to face Cerrone. Both fighters possess punishing styles and, with each looking to rebound from losses in their previous outings, the lightweight showdown is sure to deliver.
“I was excited to get the call and I took it without question,” Stephens told HeavyMMA. “It’s a great matchup and should be exciting for the fans. It’s a winnable fight for me and it’s going to be a good one. I’m a very hungry fighter with a lot of push-forward attitude. I bring relentlessness, and fans are going to see fireworks, a lot of exchanges and a knockout to end the fight.
“Cerrone is always looking for the finish and he shows up to fight. He’s not looking to outpoint people or win by decision. He comes to fight, and I like that about Donald. When you are facing an opponent who is always looking for the finish it makes for an exciting fight.”
When Stephens gets to work inside the Octagon, his ultimate goal is to separate his opponent from his consciousness. Nasty overhands and uppercuts have been Stephens’ calling card, and on more than one occasion his unique brand of power has inspired his opposition to avoid exchanging at all costs. Stephen understands winning is what matters the most, and in the highly competitive UFC lightweight division, there is little room for error.
“I’ve been in this division for a long time and I think it’s always been stacked,” Stephens said. “I’ve always felt the best guys are in this weight class. Right now, with the WEC merger and everything that’s happened so far, it is just going to get better and better. You have to be willing to grow and change with it.
“This is mixed martial arts, not just a standup fight, and you have to be prepared in all areas. Guys want to win. They have families to feed and other responsibilities, and winning is what is most important. You have to expect everything. I possess a lot of power in my hands, and once I get going and lighting guys up, of course they are going to want to shoot. That’s fine with me. Let them shoot and try to take me down. It doesn’t matter what position I’m in – I’m going to be relentless and look to take guys out.”