When it comes to contenders within the Featherweight division, Jeremy Stephens is right up there with the best of them. The UFC veteran has been a part of the company for almost a decade now, with nearly two dozen fights and a string of decisive knockouts under his belt.
As the man himself has stated in the past - when he sends people to the mat, they don't move.
Stephens is coming off the back of a hard-fought bout against Frankie Edgar at UFC 205, and in this interview, he speaks to Sportskeeda about everything including past fights, his favourite knockouts and future plans within the world of mixed martial arts.
The #5 ranked 145-pounder is clearly eager to get back inside the Octagon, and he has some fascinating things to say about a number of issues within the UFC. Whether you like him or not, nobody can deny his impact on the sport over the last 10 years.
So without further ado, here's our exclusive interview with Jeremy Stephens.
SK: Coming off the back of a historic UFC 205 event in New York City, it's always interesting to see how fighters react to such groundbreaking occasions. How have the last few months been for you and what tends to be your routine in the weeks following a big fight like that?
Stephens: I love making history but winning is the only thing that really matters to me. I'm sure it'll be something I might enjoy later but the only thing on my mind is getting another fight and winning.
SK: One of the biggest moments of your career came back in May when you defeated the legendary Renan Barao in Las Vegas. Can you describe what that moment was like and did the fight go as you expected?
Stephens: Not even close to the biggest moment in my career. Maybe it looked good, but it was a fight with a savage that actually fought, so I had fun and did what I did best. It's in the past. The only moment I can think and feel right now is what is to come and how bad I want more and more success.
SK: You're clearly one of the most powerful 145-pounders in the business, but can you remember the exact moment you decided to transition from Lightweight down to Featherweight? What was the inspiration for that move?
Stephens: I love fighting at Lightweight and never wanted to move to 145. I was pushed in this direction, embraced it, made some changes and things have become better and better. When the move happened, I had a lot of s*** holding me down and just needed to make some changes to get away from a low point.
I had a lot to do personally and professionally - I was robbed on the Pettis fight, lost to the savage Cowboy who broke my eye socket in the first couple minutes, which gave me the most pain I've ever felt in my life and took a fight on short notice for the wrong reasons.
No excuses, it all happened for a reason and it helped me out more than anything. I keep asking for fights out of 145 to keep me busy but they won't let me for some reason.
SK: With the UFC so stacked full of talent right now, who would you say is your favourite fighter to watch?
Stephens: (I like) The VERY FEW guys that are true fighters who want to take any and every fight, fighting the best possible and truly fist fight without all the running and hugging crap that most of the roster seems to be doing.
Jorge Masvidal, Cerrone, Stipe, Bisping, Diaz, Michael Johnson, Matt Brown, Whittaker, Anthony Johnson and Mark Hunt. I like those ten fighters, that's what the fight game is supposed to be - like that. Not all this picking and choosing who you can beat easiest without risk, avoiding savage fighters, running, hugging and blanketing... I hate that stuff.
SK: In terms of the rankings, Yair Rodriguez is making some moves following his dominant victory over BJ Penn. Is that a match-up you'd be interested in?
Stephens: I was trying to get that fight with BJ but now I'm glad I didn't get it. I didn't know he didn't have it anymore. I don't have an opinion about anyone that only has 6 padded fights, mainly by decision and split decision. Don't ask me about any fighter unless they have fought savages in their prime.
SK: You've been a part of the UFC for a long time now with your first bout coming nearly a decade ago at UFC 71. Over the years you've had some fantastic knockout victories, but which would you say is your favourite?
Stephens: The next KO I give out will be my favourite.
SK: With the fight against Frankie Edgar in the books, what would you say is the next step for Jeremy Stephens?
Stephens: Knocking someone’s head off as soon as I get a fighter to not dodge me and step up to the plate. I've called many names out in the last few months, thinking the longtime savages would at least step up... only to hear nothing but crickets. I might have to start letting out details of the guys turning down fights, there's a lot of them.
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