Jeremy Stephens has made a reputation for his incredible toughness and knockout power in his lengthy UFC career. Both of those qualities were on full display against Josh Emmett as he picked up a second-round TKO finish in the main event of UFC on Fox 28 from the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida.
UFC on Fox passed along the highlight of the finish:
The two heavy-handed featherweights got off to a relatively slow start. Both fighters were gauging distance for much of the round, but when Stephens finally committed to an attack, he paid for it as Emmett landed a strong counterhook:
Stephens wasn't about to have that exchange define the fight, though.
Coming out in the second round, Stephens reminded everyone that he's always in a fight as long as he's standing. He didn't stop being aggressive, and it succeeded big-time when a massive left hook found Emmett's chin.
Stephens threw a knee that was close to being illegal in the following moments, but a follow-up elbow was what really brought the fight to a halt as he locked in the second-round finish. Upon further review, some of the follow-up elbows may have been illegal.
Ariel Helwani of MMAFighting.com broke down the controversial nature of the finish:
After the bout Stephens did some campaigning for a title shot. He came into the fight ranked No. 8 in the division, but Emmett was No. 4:
Regardless of whether he gets the title shot he's seeking, it's simply impressive that Stephens continues to rise through an up-and-down career in the UFC that spans back to 2007:
The Orlando crowd didn't just witness the final featherweight scrap, though. It was a night that had a little bit of everything, as noted by Reed Kuhn of Fightnomics:
Fightnomics Reed @Fightnomics
Hard hitters in the main event. I’d say #UFCOrlando has already been a success for FOX. Nice mix of a lot things: title contender implications, barn burners, back and forth action, straight violence, and lots of significant others in corners. So this one’s a cherry on top.
Main card (FOX now)
- Josh Emmett def. Jeremy Stephens via second-round TKO (1:35)
- Jessica Andrade def. Tecia Torres via unanimous decision (29-27, 29-28 x2)
- Ilir Latifi def. Ovince Saint Preux via submission (guillotine) (R1, 3:48)
- Max Griffin def. Mike Perry via unanimous decision
- Brian Kelleher def. Renan Barao via unanimous decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)
- Marion Renau def. Sara McMann via submission (triangle choke) (R2, 3:40)
- Angela Hill def. Maryna Moroz via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
- Alan Jouban def. Ben Saunders via second-round TKO (2:38)
- Sam Alvey def. Marcin Parchnio via first-round TKO (4:23)
- Rani Yahya def. Russell Sloane via submission (head and arm choke) (3rd, 2:32)
- Alex Perez defeaed Eric Shelton via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
- Manny Bermudez def. Albert Morales via submission (guillotine choke) (R2, 2:33)
Tecia Torres vs. Jessica Andrade
There were very few fans in Orlando or watching at home that wouldn't want to have seen two more rounds of Tecia Torres and Jessica Andrade, but after three rounds it was Andrade who got her hand raised by unanimous decision.
The battle between two elite women's strawweight showcased a difference in styles. Torres took a lead in the first round with her quick counterstriking:
But it wasn't long before Andrade came storming back in the second round with her powerful takedown game. She had multiple takedowns that saw Torres go airborne:
The punch-counterpunch rhythm of this fight made it one of the most exciting of the night. Andrade continually pushed forward while Torres was active off her back while on the ground, and a crisp counterstriker in the standup.
Ultimately, the judges preferred Andrade's aggression and the power behind the shots that she landed.
The win gives Andrade back-to-back wins after her failed bid against Joanna Jedrzejczyk to win the title. With Rose Namajunas now holding the belt, Andrade might have earned herself a title shot with this hard-fought win.
Ilir Latifi vs. Ovince Saint Preux
In the ever-shallow light heavyweight division, Ilir Latifi might have gone and made himself a title contender with a first-round finish of Ovince Saint Preux. The powerful 205-pounder wasted little time in putting No. 5 Ovince Saint Preux out.
Despite a relatively large reach and length disadvantage for the Swede, he was able to close the distance by lunging forward, landing a big bomb and latching onto a standing guillotine for the choke. UFC on Fox Sports posted the finish:
Latifi took advantage of the spotlight by calling out Daniel Cormier for a shot at the light heavyweight title. While a win over Saint Preux isn't usually the fodder for a title shot, he just might be under consideration. Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful broke down the argument for why he's next:
Cormier is next slated to take on heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic, so a matchup with Latifi isn't likely to come to fruition anytime soon. However, another win could make him the odds-on favorite to welcome Cormier back to light heavyweight.
Mike Perry vs. Max Griffin
Welterweight Max "Pain" Griffin was supposed to be a sacrificial lamb to get Mike "Platinum" Perry off the schneid, but he didn't do a good job of that. Instead, Griffin got himself back in the win column with a unanimous decision win over Perry.
Fighting in his home state of Florida, Perry came out swinging even more recklessly than usual. Griffin wasn't to be overwhelmed, though; he was patient in knowing when to go on the attack and when to get out of dodge.
Jed Meshew of MMAFighting.com noted the lack of development for Platinum:
It's a disappointing development for Perry. The fiery 26-year-old has shown some promise as an exciting action fighter, but this makes two losses in a row, and it's becoming evident there's a limit to just how far he can climb up the rankings.
With the UFC badly needing some marketable personalities, Perry is one of the biggest losers of the fight card, while Griffin certainly made himself a fighter to watch in the division.