The UFC’s featherweight division is proving to be a terrific fit for Jeremy Stephens. The hard-hitting veteran made it three straight victories since making the move down to the 145-pound weight class in recording a unanimous decision victory over the ultra-tough Darren Elkins at UFC on FOX 10 in Chicago.
Stephens showcased an impressive arsenal of heavy punches and leg kicks to earn his twenty-third career victory. The triumph should allow “Lil Heathen” to continue his rise in the rankings after a strong performance against a top-10 competitor.
Elkins, to his credit, showed tremendous heart in lasting the distance as he ate several huge uppercuts from the powerful Stephens during the course of the three-round contest. He was badly wobbled early in the second round, but Stephens was unable to produce a finish.
A big key for Stephens’ success in the bout was the ability to keep it a stand-up affair. He showed outstanding takedown defense in not allowing Elkins to take him to the ground and wear him down as the fight progressed.
Stephens’ power advantage was evident during the course of the contest, but it didn’t stop Elkins from standing and trading. “The Damage” absorbed further punishment from Stephens before landing a punch that seemed to hurt his opponent late in the final round. Elkins went for a miracle come-from-behind guillotine choke submission, but Stephens was able to fend it off as the bout ended.
When the 15 minutes were in the books, two judges scored the fight 30-27 while the other scorecard read 29-28.
Stephens has definitely rejuvenated his career since the move down from the lightweight division and will be a handful for just about anyone in the featherweight ranks with his tremendous power. His all-around game seems to be improving. As for Elkins, he may drop out of the top-10 rankings with the setback, but again earned plenty of respect by showing a granite chin and a never-say-die attitude.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports