Jeremy Stephens had an opportunity to compete for his first UFC title of his mixed martial arts (MMA) career this past weekend (Sat. July 7, 2018), but top-ranked Brian Ortega threw a wrench in those plans.
Stephens was called upon by UFC officials when featherweight champion Max Holloway was forced out of his UFC 226 co-headliner against Brian Ortega. “Blessed” was suffering from some scary concussion-like symptoms and was thus removed from the bout.
Ortega was offered an interim title fight against Stephens, who agreed to take the bout on short notice. The timing couldn’t have been better for Stephens, who was already in a training camp in preparation for his fight against Jose Aldo at UFC on FOX 30 on July 28th.
Instead, “T-City” opted to wait for a healthy Holloway rather than fight “Lil Heathen” on short notice. Stephens joined Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show earlier this week to discuss the situation, and said he was 100 percent ready to fight (quotes via MMA Mania):
“It’s really not my concern what that guy does. I stepped up and he stepped back. It is what it is, what can I do about it? I don’t want to sit here and talk about the guy, I really don’t know him personally,” he said.
“I am willing to fight and all I know is that this is the third time that my name has been in his ear. He has seen me fight a lot, in the front row, and seen me knock a motherfucker out. I mean, you tell me.”
Stephens was asked if he thinks Ortega is doing as much as possible to avoid a fight with him. His answer – “facts, bro”:
“Those are facts, bro. Deny all you want, he stepped back and I stepped up. They said they were going to fight somebody else, Frankie, and I said take it and then they called it off,” he said.
Should Holloway not be ready to jump back into action anytime soon, Stephens is ready to give things with Ortega another shot. As a matter of fact, he’d be willing to throw down in Ortega’s home state of California at UFC 227 in August:
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“I told Dana that I will go to that kid’s mama’s house in L.A. and fight him in his front yard. I’ll fight him August 4, why not? Jose Aldo lost two title fights, he is out. I’ve been in the sport 11 years, putting on dominant performances, why not give him to me right now? Let’s set it up for September 8,” said.
“This kid is ducking me. Whether I fight Jose or not, they can pull me off this card and I will fight this kid in L.A. on August 4. I will go to his backyard, fight him there and pull his gangster card. I saw on Embedded where he is talking about he used to show up to domes and bar fights where you look at a guy, you are the same weight and you fought.
“Well I don’t know if he was there with his little jiu-jitsu crew watching guys like me who actually stepped up and fought grown men when I was 16 years old and I wasn’t even supposed to be there. That was me, I was really living that type of life. I do this shit for fun, because I love it,” concluded a fired-up Stephens.”