Jeremy Stephens always warns his opponents that he has a different level of power for the fighters in the featherweight division.
He backed up that statement on Sunday night as Stephens demolished highly touted prospect Dooho Choi in the main event from the UFC’s first ever card in St. Louis.
With both fighters known as knockout strikers, Stephens and Choi had no problem charging toward the center of the Octagon and immediately winging shots at each other.
Stephens struggled with his range, coming up just short on most of his biggest punches with Choi using a stiff jab and a hard leg kick as his best weapons early.
Choi was landing with better accuracy, but he often times forgot to protect his chin on the exit and that’s when Stephens cracked him with some of his best punches in the round.
Stephens also landed a hard elbow on the exit after Choi engaged in an exchange and then tried to back out on a straight line.
Choi opened the second round with a perfectly timed front kick that snapped Stephens’ head back like a rubber band, but that only seemed to wake the UFC veteran, as he immediately began returning fire with a barrage of shots that found a home.
Stephens tagged Choi time and time again with his punches, as he finally figured out his range and he made the South Korean prospect pay for standing in front of him.
Finally, Stephens uncorked a beautiful right hand that blasted Choi and sent him tumbling to the canvas, but he was immediately put into even more trouble a second later.
WATCH FOR THE HOOK! @lilheathenmma finishes strong with a huge win over @koreansuperboy7! @briantcity next, perhaps? #UFCSTL https://t.co/2ZYhv2DQ2c
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Stephens came crashing down on Choi like a predator trapping his prey and he unloaded a hellish punch that finished whatever he started with the previous shot on the feet. Choi rolled over to his side trying to survive the onslaught, but Stephens was relentless with his attack until the referee finally stopped the fight at 2:36 in the second round.
Afterwards, Stephens paid tribute to Choi’s toughness, while celebrating his second straight in the division. With another knockout added to his resume, Stephens turned towards a top five ranked fighter sitting in the audience as a potential opponent for later this year.
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“Brian Ortega, I know he’s here. Where’s he at? I know he’s coming off a good win,” Stephens said following his victory. “I want to fight everybody in front of me.”
It was a very impressive outing from Stephens, who came into the fight as a slight underdog, but he proved any doubters wrong by putting a stamp on the main event with a huge finish against a very tough opponent in Choi.