UFC featherweight Jeremy Stephens can rest easy after felony assault and burglary charges were dropped on Monday following a very brief start to a trial that was set to begin in Iowa.
Stephens was arrested in October 2012 while in Minnesota as the fighter was preparing for his bout scheduled for UFC on FX 5 later that day. He was arrested on an outstanding warrant from an assault charge in 2011 in Iowa, and he was held for a total of 12 days despite the best efforts from UFC president Dana White to bail him out that same day.
White stood by the fighter the entire time during the ordeal as well, which Stephens publicly acknowledged as he fought the charges. From the very beginning of the situation, Stephens maintained his innocence in the charges against him, and on Monday he was vindicated.
Following his arrest and subsequent release, Stephens' managers at EVO Agents released a statement proclaiming his fight against the charges (via MMAWeekly.com).
Jeremy felt it was very important to thank each and every one of those who have stood by his side during this tough time. He wanted everyone to know that despite the negative situation that he’s been placed in, he has remained upbeat and positive, reflecting on the opportunities that have been and will be presented to him, reflecting on his family, and his firm belief in his innocence. Jeremy’s legal team is already hard at work to prove what many already know; he is not guilty of the crimes he’s been accused of.
According to Stephens' manager, Ryan Hass of EVO Agents, who spoke to Bleacher Report on Monday, the fighter was ready to go to trial to prove his innocence in the matter. Prosecutors were attempting to get Stephens convicted on felony assault and burglary charges that could have landed him in jail for up to 10 years if found guilty.
The news of the felony charges being dropped was first reported by MMAFighting.com.
A previous plea agreement was offered according to Hass, but Stephens and his attorneys opted to turn it down because he was confident that once a jury heard his side of the story, along with a slew of witnesses lined up in his defense, he would be found not guilty.
As the trial and jury selection began, the prosecutor came back with another deal offering Stephens a much lesser charge of misdemeanor disorderly conduct that would result in time served and court costs.
Stephens opted to take the lesser charge and will serve no additional time for the misdemeanor.
With the trial and charges behind him, Stephens can now get back to focusing on his fight career. He recently moved down to the featherweight division where he picked up a dominant win over Estevan Payan at UFC 160.
He is currently back in training awaiting word from the UFC on his next bout.
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report