UFC 136: What We Learned from Anthony Pettis vs. Jeremy Stephens
Anthony Pettis has just earned his first-ever UFC victory, defeating a game Jeremy Stephens via split-decision.
As expected, it was a close fight and I don't think anyone would have argued with either fighter being named the winner.
Stephens landed the bigger punches on the feet, but Pettis was able to earn more takedowns and achieve more dominant positions once the fight hit the ground.
Here's what we learned from Anthony Pettis vs. Jeremy Stephens:
What we'll remember about this fight:
How close it was.
This is one of those fights that we would have needed to be five rounds in order to get a decisive decision.
Both fighters had success standing and on the ground and neither ever had their opponent in any real trouble.
It was a great fight and I wouldn't be at all surprised if we saw these two fight again in the future.
They are both great prospects in the lightweight division and I feel like we didn't really find out who the better man was tonight.
What we learned about Anthony Pettis:
Pettis does not have what it takes to be the UFC lightweight champion—not yet.
He came into the UFC as the last ever WEC lightweight champion and was almost given an immediate title shot, but it seems like the UFC made the right decision in testing him first.
In his UFC debut, Pettis lost a unanimous decision to Clay Guida in what was a relatively underwhelming performance.
Before tonight, it could be speculated that Guida was just a bad matchup for Pettis or that Pettis had an off night, but now it's clear that Pettis isn't ready for the best fighters in the lightweight division.
Stephens is a solid fighter, but he's never been one of the best at 155 lbs. If Pettis struggled that much to get passed him, I doubt he's ready for lightweight's elite.
What we learned about Jeremy Stephens:
Unless he starts to show some major improvements, Stephens will never be more than a gatekeeper at 155 lbs.
Stephens is one of the most exciting fighters in the UFC's lightweight division, but he has lost consistently to high-level competition since joining the promotion.
Arguably the best fighter Stephens has defeated is Sam Stout—and that was just by split-decision.
However, he has lost in fights against Din Thomas, Spencer Fisher, Gleison Tibau, Melvin Guillard, Joe Lauzon, and now Anthony Pettis.
What's next for Anthony Pettis:
This was a good win for Pettis and he can expect a step-up in competition for his next fight.
Matt Wiman is a possibility, as well as the winner of Dennis Siver and Donald Cerrone.
What's next for Jeremy Stephens:
It's back to the drawing board for Stephens.
At this point, the UFC has faith in his abilities, so he can likely expect a reasonably tough opponent for his next fight.
He won't get a top-level fighter, but a solid up-and-comer.
Charles Oliveira comes to mind.
Be sure to check out Bleacher Report for all things UFC 136. B/R is your home for MMA, from pre-fight predictions to in-fight coverage , live results and post-fight analysis...which you can check out on our UFC 136 event hub.
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