(Stephens puts the stamp on TUF Brazil winner Ronny Jason, while Kenny Florian does his best Joe Silva impersonation in the background. Photo via Getty.)
Jeremy Stephens is a perfect example of a fighter who all but saved his career by dropping a weight class. While Stephens was a staple of the UFC’s lightweight division for some five years, his last three appearances all resulted in losses — a pair of one-sided decisions to Anthony Pettis and Donald Cerrone and a first round KO (the first of his career) at the hands of Yves Edwards.
Since making the cut to featherweight, however, “Lil Heathen” has been a man reborn (also, acquitted). With decision victories over Estevan Payan and Darren Elkins and a brutal KO over TUF Brazil winner Rony Jason (who did not take the loss well), Stephens has gone from a perennial gatekeeper to a fighter ranked just outside the top 10 on the UFC’s totally unbiased rankings system.
And now, Stephens will be given arguably the biggest fight of his career when he faces off against #4 ranked Cub Swanson in the main event of a Fight Night card scheduled for June 28th in San Antonio. The likelihood of the winner receiving a title shot? Kinda sorta maybe. The likelihood that this fight turns into a slugfest the likes of Lawler vs. Hendricks? Definitely maybe.
Swanson, on the other hand, has strung together five straight wins since dropping his UFC debut to Ricardo Lamas, including stoppage victories over Ross Pearson, Charles Oliveira, and Dennis Siver. He also has some pretty funny-lookin’ tattoos, if you ask me.
Who you like, Nation?