The UFC will kick off 2018 with a free fight card, as UFC Fight Night 124 is set to take place tomorrow (Jan. 14, 2017) live on FOX Sports 1 from St. Louis, Missouri.
In the main event, featherweight contenders Jeremy Stephens and Doo Ho Choi will square off in a five-round affair.
The co-main event will feature a flyweight tilt between Paige VanZant and Jessica Rose-Clark, while welterweight contenders Kamaru Usman and Emil Meek are set to do battle on the main card as well.
Without further ado, here’s a look at our UFC Fight Night 124 preview, breakdown, and analysis:
Jeremy Stephens vs. Doo Ho Choi
This main event will feature two featherweight contenders looking to continue rising up the 145-pound ranks.
Stephens, currently ranked No. 9, is a very experienced fighter, holding a 26-14 professional record through 40 fights. He has, however, lost two of his last three, although he’s coming off of a win over Gilbert Melendez.
Stylistically, Stephens is an aggressive and powerful fighter. He has a strong right hand and legitimate finishing ability, as 16 of his 26 wins have come by T/KO.
Rarely taking a step backward, Stephens likes to pressure his opponents, and he’s never shied away from a brawl. He has, however, gotten a bit more technical with his striking in recent years.
As far as the grappling department goes, “Lil’ Heathen” isn’t known for his submissions, but he does have an underrated wrestling game. I’m not sure we’ll see him shoot for many takedowns in this bout, but it could be a possibility.
Choi, on the other hand, holds an impressive professional record of 14-2 and is coming off of a loss to Cub Swanson in one of 2016’s best fights.
Like Stephens, Choi is a dangerous striker with fight-ending power, as 11 of his 14 victories have come by way of T/KO. He also likes to move forward, although he uses incredible timing to land counter shots as well. In addition, Choi is likely the faster puncher, while also being well-versed in the clinch.
In regards to the grappling department, Choi’s wrestling is a bit underrated as well, although he isn’t known much for his submissions either. He does, however, have solid defensive skills off of his back.
Ultimately, I see this fight playing out on the feet, and if that’s the case, anything can happen with two talented strikers like Stephens and Choi. In my opinion, however, Stephens’ pressure and Choi’s defense will be the x-factors. Although he landed some big shots of his own in his bout against Swanson, Choi showed that he was hittable.
If Stephens can inflict a fast pace and keep the pressure high, he may find opportunities to land powerful strikes. I’m not sure he’ll find the finish, but I see him scoring a closely fought victory.
Prediction: Jeremy Stephens def. Doo Ho Choi via unanimous decision