Jeremy Stephens: When I hit people 'they don't move, they don't get up'
JUN 19, 2014 3:45p ET
When Jeremy Stephens attended UFC 171 in Dallas, Texas to support his teammate Myles Jury, he also had ulterior motives to stalk down matchmaker Sean Shelby to get booked for his next fight.
Stephens was two months removed from his dominant performance over Darren Elkins at FOX UFC Saturday in Chicago, which marked his third win in a row since dropping down to the featherweight division in 2013. Once he tracked down Shelby he began to badger him about what fight he could get next even if it meant traveling back down to Brazil where he had just competed one fight earlier.
It didn't take long for Shelby to give Stephens even better news than what he was expecting. His next fight would not only be big, but a win will earn him the next shot at the UFC featherweight title.
"I went down to Texas to watch Myles Jury and I was just begging Sean Shelby to get me a fight and he was like 'no, I'll get back to you Tuesday'. He goes 'the next thing's going to be real big'. I was like 'what are you thinking?' and he said 'I'm thinking Cub Swanson and you, Chad Mendes and Jose Aldo for a four man tournament -- winner is the No. 1 contender in the spot," Stephens revealed when speaking to the Great MMA Debate podcast. "I ended up talking to Dana (White) and that's what I was told and I believe it."
“He TKO's people, but when I knock people out they don't move, they don't get up. Their corners have to carry them back and ask them what the f--k just happened”
Looking at the divisional rankings and who currently sits with the best wins in the division, Stephens says it was pretty clear why he was matched up with Stephens as the headliner for the UFC Fight Night card on June 28 in San Antonio. Swanson is currently riding the wave of a five-fight win streak, and both fighters are known for exciting affairs and blistering knockouts.
So as he was told when he signed for this fight, if Stephens can beat Swanson he'll face the winner of the UFC 176 main event between Jose Aldo and Chad Mendes on Aug 2.
"I think there's no doubt about it," Stephens said about the winner fighting for the belt. "I think me and Cub Swanson could be a title fight with the way we perform. We're two great athletes, we're stand up guys, two guys who go for broke and we have it all together. I just feel like everything he's good at, I'm better at.
"It's just my time now. It's all come together."
With four TKO's in his last five fights, Swanson is more than capable of putting away an opponent at any time, but Stephens believes there's a huge difference in the kinds of finishes of them provides when stepping inside the Octagon.
Stephens is best known for his knockout power, but not the kind where the referee has to take a look and make a judgment call on whether the fight should be stopped or not. No, Stephens' power is the mind-altering variety where his opponents are left as a blur on a highlight reel like Rafael Dos Anjos, who was a victim of a vicious uppercut knockout that remains staple of UFC promotional videos to this day.
"I have the striking advantage with the power," Stephens said. "He TKO's people, but when I knock people out they don't move, they don't get up. Their corners have to carry them back and ask them what the f--k just happened. He TKO's guys where they're still rocked and dazed, but they're still seeing the lights compared to when I do it, the lights just go completely out.
"When I hit people, it's not a flash knockout where they get back up and I hit them a couple of times and the ref stops it and they're like 'oh I wasn't out'. I hit people where it's like 'what happened?'. The coaches have to wake them up. That's just a difference in power."
Stephens isn't betting big on just landing the knockout blow, however, because the natural ebb and flow of a fight could demand him to show other weapons in his arsenal. Whether it's out wrestling Swanson, out grappling him on the mat or just overwhelming him in the clinch, Stephens is ready for a quick finish but prepared for five rounds of hell.
"I'm training with the best guys in the world. I have phenomenal wrestlers like Mike Chandler, I have (a guy) who has great movement who's faster than Cub in Dominick Cruz, who is back training now. I have other guys who have the reach, the range, the style, I can do it all and I can do it better than what he has to offer," Stephens said.
"I can strike with him, I can ground and pound him, I can out wrestle him, I can get back up to my feet and I can submit him. I know I can beat this guy."