On Thursday, MMAJunkie confirmed with two sources that Stephens (28-19) officially became a free agent following his July submission loss to Mateusz Gamrot. The bout was the final fight on his UFC deal, and in the end, the promotion elected not to offer one of their longest-tenured fighters a new contract.
"Lil Heathen's" UFC run began all the way back in 2007 when he came up short in his UFC debut against MMA coaching great, and current ESPN analyst, Din Thomas. During his well-traveled run in the organization, the 35-year-old bounced between the lightweight and featherweight divisions. Racking up wins over Octagon luminaries like eventual 155-pound champion Rafael dos Anjos, former bantamweight champion Renan Barao, Strikeforce lightweight titlist Gilbert Melendez, and current featherweight contender Josh Emmett.
Jeremy Stephens has been a free agent since July
However, over the last few years, Stephens has been mired in one of the worst runs of his career. Since 2018, he went winless in his last six Octagon appearances and suffered two of only three knockout losses during his 47-fight career.
Despite a disappointing finishing to his UFC tenure, Stephens will still be remembered as one of the hardest-hitting fighters in the lower weight classes over the last two decades. Eight of his 19 career knockout wins came inside the UFC's fabled Octagon.
However, for many newer fans, he will, unfortunately, be remembered for being on the wrong side of an exchange with former two-division champion Conor McGregor at the UFC 205 press conference in 2016. When a member of the media asked "Notorious" which fighter at that press event would give him the toughest fight, Stephens jumped in and proclaimed he was the man. It was an opinion that McGregor infamously responded to by saying, "Who da f*ck is that guy?"
With his skills as a striker and his ability to put opponents to sleep, even now, many promotions throughout the combat sports realm are likely to inquire about Stephen's services.
What is your favorite Jeremy Stephens moment?