Six Fighters Who Turned Their Careers Around In 2018

Holm and Stephens photos by Kamil Krzaczynski and Scott Rovak for USA TODAY Sports
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Mixed martial arts is a crazy and unpredictable sport. It takes a special kind of individual to throw caution into the wind and risk their own physical wellbeing for the sake of entertainment.

There is no blueprint on how to become a fighter. We have seen fighters come from all different walks of life. There have been lifelong athletes that transition into MMA after their collegiate days, and we have seen real estate agents by day turn into savage cage fighters at night.

Likewise, some fighters hit the ground running in MMA, laying waste to opponents right from the very start of their careers. Other fighters don’t quite hit their fighting groove till much later in their careers.

One thing, however, does remain true in combat sports. and particularly MMA. That is you can always expect the unexpected. 2018 has provided mixed martial arts fans with some memorable moments, and with five months still left to go in the year, its a safe bet there are still many more heart-stopping outcomes still to come.

2018 has seen its fair share of comebacks inside the octagon, but we here at Lowkick wanted to put a different spin on the term “comeback.” We took a look back at the first half of 2018 to bring you our list of six fighters who have turned their fight careers around this year.

Here is our list:

Jeremy Stephens

There is perhaps no greater example of what one year can do for an MMA career than Jeremy “Lil Heathen” Stephens.

Stephens first set foot into the Octagon back in 2007 at UFC 71. He would lose his debut against Din Thomas on that night, but here we are over a decade later, and “Lil’ Heathen” has never looked better.

In Stephens’┬álast outing, he destroyed rising Team Alpha Male contender Josh Emmett via KO at 1:35 of the second round of their main event at UFC on FOX 28 in February. Just one month prior to FOX 28 at UFC Fight Night 124, “Lil Heathen” took out highly-touted prospect Doo Ho Choi in a war that earned “Fight of the Night” honors.

Stephens is 2-0 in 2018 and plans on adding more Ws to the win column before year’s end. He was recently called upon to fill in for Max Holloway at UFC 226 after the champ was removed from the card for exhibiting concussion-like symptoms. “Lil’ Heathen” jumped at the short-notice opportunity, however, his would-be opponent Brian Ortega refused the fight.

Stephens now turns his sights to longtime former featherweight king Jose Aldo, who he will be facing in the co-main event of UFC on FOX 30 next week (July 28, 2018).