One of the more tenured fighters in the UFC is no longer with the promotion. Today, promotional officials confirmed with MMA Fighting that “Lil Heathen” Jeremy Stephens (28-19, 1 NC) is no longer with the promotion.
Stephens fought out his contract and his deal expired at the end of 2021. With the news today, we know that the UFC is not going to be bringing Stephens back and one of the more entertaining fighters over the last fifteen years is officially a free agent.
Stephens made his UFC debut back in May of 2007 when he fought Din Thomas. He was submitted in that first fight and the loss sent him back to the regional circuit. However, after one more win there, the UFC brought him back.
Once back in the UFC, Stephens won his first two fights including a TKO win over Cole Miller. It’s been quite the run for Stephens inside the octagon. Not many people can say they stay with the promotion as long as Stephens was able to.
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Some of the highlight moments for Stephens in the UFC included a knockout of Rafael Dos Anjos and a big knockout over current top contender Josh Emmett. However, most of Stephens UFC career will be remembered as a guy who could get close to the top, but couldn’t quite summit the mountain.
Some might only remember him for being the guy who was mocked by Conor McGregor at a press conference. However, Stephens was always a ton of fun to watch in the UFC and he always kept you on the edge of your seat due to his raw power.
Now, he’s moving on. At just 35 years old, Stephens has plenty of fight left in him. I expect him to be pursued by both the PFL and Bellator. However, something tells me that PFL might have the inside track.
PFL is constantly looking to bring in more mainstream guys for their seasons. Stephens would bring in really solid name recognition and he has a great history with the UFC. He would be a very exciting addition to the 2022 lightweight season.
Time will tell, but this is definitely not he last we’ve seen of Jeremy Stephens.