Jeremy Stephens can enjoy a fight and still be critical of the performances from the fighters involved in the matchup.
Like just about everybody else, Stephens loved watching the slugfest between Cub Swanson and Doo Ho Choi back in 2016 that resulted in a ‘Fight of the Year’ nod from virtually every media outlet on the planet. The non-stop action saw Swanson and Choi exchange 209 strikes over three rounds in a pulse-pounding affair that captivated the audience both in the arena that night and on television screens around the world.
Now Stephens will get his chance to throw down with Choi on Sunday night in the main event at UFC Fight Night from St. Louis and he’s anxious to see what the young South Korean slugger has for him.
See as much as Stephens appreciated the battle Choi had with Swanson over a year ago, he didn’t witness a back and forth war but instead a one sided affair with his next opponent taking the brunt of the damage.
“I thought that was an amazing fight. Cub stood and banged with him and Choi was in there and they were putting on a great fight. At the end of the day, I feel like Cub beat his ass,” Stephens told MMAWeekly. “The only reason that made it a good fight was there was a little bit of back and forth action but really what made that fight was the dude’s chin. Then he took a year layoff. Why did he take that layoff? Cause his brain’s rattled.
Throughout his young UFC career, Choi has been more than willing to stand and engage in a striking battle with all of his past opponents including three straight knockouts before he went to a decision with Swanson in 2016.
Stephens hopes Choi carries that same strategy into their main event bout, although he’s learned through experience in the past that very few of his opponents are actually willing to trade punches with him once the fire fight truly begins.
If Choi decides to change his game plan and abandon his stand up, Stephens promises he’s ready for that contingency as well.
“I hit a little bit different, people fight me a little bit different,” Stephens explained. “I feel like I’m a lot more diverse with my striking. I’m better on the ground. If I want to take it to the ground, I can. If I want to keep it up, I will.
“Like GSP said to [Michael] Bisping, I’ll do what I want, how I want and when I want.”
While Stephens prides himself on knockout power and the ability to finish anybody he faces in the featherweight division, he actually envisions a different kind of ending to his fight with Choi.
Rather than rendering “The Korean Superboy” unconscious, Stephens would actually enjoy making his opponent quit more than landing the finishing shot on the feet.
“I can’t predict the future but there’s definitely some holes in his game,” Stephens said. “Choi, he is very tough and we’re well prepared. We’re willing to go the distance, we’re willing to take him out, if the knockout comes, good.
“I would really like for him to quit on the stool and say ‘no mas’ 100-percent.”