Aside from his loss to Nate Diaz (who will be fighting for a title soon), Donald Cerrone has looked fantastic in the UFC.
Before that loss, he was on a six-fight winning streak with four of those wins coming by stoppage. Jeremy Stephens, meanwhile, last fought to a close split-decision loss to Anthony Pettis and before that had beaten Danny Downes after KO’ing Marcus Davis right out of the UFC.
This is an interesting fight for both men, and there’s more on the line than you might think.
If Cerrone loses this fight, he’s at a real risk of vanishing under the murky waters of the mid-tier, which is stacked with lightweight contenders looking to build their way up.
There’s nothing wrong with being in the mid-tier, but to go from one of the most promising WEC-to-UFC fighters, to just another talented lightweight that could become lost in the shuffle?
That’s definitely not where Cerrone wants to be at this point in his career.
For Stephens, it’s all about getting out of that mid-tier, gatekeeper role.
He almost did it against Anthony Pettis, and the close nature of that fight is probably why he’s getting a second chance to finally break out of relative obscurity.
Your status in the division is always at risk any time you step into the cage, but for this fight in particular, the fate of both men’s immediate careers may be in the balance.
Couple that with the fact that they’ve both consistently put on good fights recently, and this could definitely turn into the sleeper hit of the evening.