If until a day or two ago you completely forgot that Jeremy Stephens will battle Charles Oliveira tonight at the TUF 20 Finale, don’t feel bad. You’re not the only one.
Yes, between last weekend’s UFC 181 card, which was huge, Saturday’s UFC on FOX 13, and tonight’s strawweight title fight between Rose Namajunas and Carla Esparza, chances are a few folks glossed over Stephens-Oliveira.
Of course, it’s still an important and intriguing fight, as it features the #14 ranked, featherweight in Oliveira, taking on the #10 positioned Stephens.
It’s also a compelling scrap, because of the abilities of each man. As most fans know, “Lil Heathen” has been known to finish fights in jaw dropping fashion, like he did when he bombed out Rony “Jason” with a head kick last year.
Oliveira, on the other hand, is quite the wiz when it comes to submissions, as he’s showcased in his wins over Hatsu Hioki, Andy Ogle, Jonathan Brookins and Eric Wisely.
Well, not surprisingly, Stephens doesn’t sound overly concerned about the ground skills of “do Bronx”. While speaking to the media during fight week, here is some of what the featherweight had to say about the jiu-jitsu of Oliveira (quotes via MMA Fighting.com):
“This isn’t a submission grappling match,” Stephens said. “This is an MMA match and I feel like I excel at MMA matches. I’m able to punch you in the face. I’m able to do a lot of things, keep you away from me. I feel like I’m a better athlete than him, I have better footwork, I’ve been in there with more versatile fighters. I’ve been in the game, man. I think that overall experience is just going to overwhelm him. I’ve got the power.”
Yes. Mr. Stephens does indeed have some power (and may I suggest Snap’s “I’ve Got The Power” for a walkout tune?), but it will be interesting to see what goes down, if the fight hits the mat.
Tonight’s a big fight for Stephens, as he’s looking to rebound from the unanimous decision loss he suffered versus contender Cub Swanson in June. Prior to the defeat, the former lightweight had won three in a row, prompting predictions that he will be a top contender at 145.
“It’s only going to be a matter of time,” Stephens stated. “I’m here to stay. I’m going to make a statement come Friday and guys are going to know that I’m for real and I mean business.”
We’ll find out soon enough. The TUF 20 Finale will be hosted by the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Some of the other bouts that are scheduled for the card include Daron Cruickshank vs. KJ Noons, Yancy Medeiros vs. Joe Proctor and Jessica Penne vs. Randa Markos.