The Ultimate Fighter 13 finale on Spike TV was the introduction of some fighters, such as Anthony Pettis, to the pinnacle of mixed martial arts as they battled their way into the hearts of millions of Americans.
Conversely, fighters who are skilled veterans continued to make their mark within the UFC with impressive victories. Cue Clay Guida.
One fighter who seems to rack up victories under the radar is Jeremy "Lil' Heathen" Stephens. This past Saturday, the lightweight competitor continued to dominate in his matchup in a silent demeanor.
How can the words "dominate" and "silent" be utilized in the same sentence?
Stephens' performances within the Octagon are full of explosiveness, fireworks, power, and brutality; however the Des Moines, Iowa native continues to navigate the lightweight waters unnoticed within division.
Stephens defeated Daniel Downes, sweeping the judges' scorecards en route to a unanimous decision victory at TUF 13.
In classic "Lil' Heathen" style, Stephens was violent, aggressive, and relied on his in-cage experience to dominate the Duke Rufus protege.
Drawing Downes' blood in the third round, Stephens may have tallied a submission victory to add to his highlight reel of knockouts if it was not for the saving bell prior to the tapout.
Could it be possible that Stephens is a victim of his most valuable asset, the knockout?
With 11 fights within the UFC, Stephens has secured six victories, of which he has earned three Knockout of the Night honors.
Fourteen total knockouts grace Stephens' overall MMA record.
Potentially lacking a complete fight game necessary to be in the title talk with the names of Frankie Edgar, Gray Maynard and Clay Guida, "Lil" Heathen may now have the reputation as a "one-trick pony" with only the ability to earn a victory from a KO.
Couple that possible moniker with the fact that Stephens has lost a few competitive fights against top-tier lightweights including Melvin Guillard and Joe Lauzon, and these two facts may be the reason for Jeremy Stephens' knockout prowess to go virtually unpublicized by media and fans, and his current ranking outside of the championship discussion within the division.
The future for Jeremy "Lil' Heathen" Stephens is somewhat unclear within the UFC lightweight division. What is evident, however, is the Stephens needs to earn victories over the upper echelon of the division.
The talent that resides at 155 pounds could arguably be the best within all of mixed martial arts.
Stephens is scheduled to face another hard-hitting lightweight who enjoys exchanging in the center of the cage in the wiley veteran, Takanori Gomi, on September 17th.
A victory over this Japanese star may elevate Stephens into the top 10 of the UFC lightweight division.
Or he may continue to exist relatively benign, except for periods of adoration and bonus money from the UFC for his extremely dangerous knockout power.
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