One thing is certain about Jeremy Stephens: Once he’s got an opponent hurt, he does not let him off the hook.
Stephens (28-14) recorded a vicious second-round knockout over Josh Emmett in their featherweight main event on Saturday at UFC Fight Night in Orlando.
The finish came at the 1:35 mark, after Stephens dropped Emmett (13-2) with a left hook across the chin. As Emmett tried to turtle and get back to his feet, Stephens landed a right uppercut and a series of hard, unanswered elbows to put him away.
Two of the elbows appeared to hit Emmett in the back of the head, which is illegal. Stephens also appeared to land a knee to Emmett’s temple as he was turtled on the canvas, which is also a foul. Referee Dan Miragliotta, however, did not signal any foul.
Exactly what impact the potentially illegal blows had on Emmett is hard to quantify, as he was badly hurt throughout the entire sequence. Stephens showed respect toward Emmett after the fight before calling for a title shot.
“Now we know who the hardest-hitting 145-[pounder] is, baby,” Stephens said. “No disrespect to Emmett. He put me down on my butt and I had to get my wits back. You cannot break me. I am unbreakable, baby.
“Emmett was tough. He was doing really good. Good movement. The dude swings leather. Give me my title shot. There are only three guys in front of me. Please, give it to me. Eleven years in the company, baby. I always put on a show.”
It is the 19th knockout of Stephens’ career, which dates to 2005. The 31-year-old first fought in the UFC in 2007, but he has never fought for a title.
Emmett, of Sacramento, had his way early in the fight. He moved in and out of Stephens’ range with feints and leg kicks, and dropped him late in the first round with a counter right hand. Stephens, however, recovered quickly from the shot.
Saturday marked the only knockout loss of Emmett’s career.
Stephens, who fights out of San Diego, has a reputation as a hard hitter, and is now riding back-to-back finishes over Emmett and Doo Ho Choi.
Andrade moves closer to second UFC title shot
Brazilian strawweight Jessica Andrade (18-6) appears to have cemented a second crack at the UFC title.
Andrade, 26, moved to 5-1 in the UFC’s 115-pound weight class, defeating Tecia Torres (10-2) via unanimous decision. Andrade’s only loss in the weight came against former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk in a five-round title fight last May.
The fight was competitive, but Andrade was clearly the aggressor. She swarmed Torres with boxing combinations on the feet and racked up seven takedowns, according to Fightmetric.
All three judges scored it in her favor: 29-27, 29-28, 29-28.
Torres made Andrade pay for her aggression at times, as she landed multiple counter right hands The blows appeared to have little effect on Andrade’s will, however, as she frequently walked right through them to land her own left hook.
As the fight wore on, Torres’ mobility waned, which allowed Andrade to pin her against the fence and take her down. Torres was active off her back, and threatened several armbar attempts in the second round, but Andrade’s physical strength gave her fits.
Andrade out-landed Torres in total strikes 158 to 53, per Fightmetric. The former bantamweight should be in line for the winner of a strawweight title fight between current champion Rose Namajunas and Jedrzejczyk at UFC 223 on April 7.
Latifi submits Saint Preux, extends challenge to Cormier
Latifi beat Saint Preux to the punch for the better part of the fight before landing the clean left hand that led to the finish. Saint Preux managed to jump back to his feet after the shot, but he was in bad shape. He toppled over a second time before ending up in a standing position near the fence.
The 34-year-old Latifi chased down Saint Preux and locked in a tight-standing guillotine. Saint Preux tapped to the choke, but referee Jorge Alonso did not see it. Saint Preux eventually went unconscious and the fight was waved off.
Immediately after the win, Latifi called out light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, who was sitting cageside as part of the broadcast. Cormier is already scheduled to move up in weight and fight heavyweight titleholder Stipe Miocic at UFC 226 in July.
It is only the fifth submission win of Latifi’s career. Saint Preux sees a three-fight win streak snapped.
Griffin rises to challenge, upsets Perry on the road
All three judges had it for Griffin, via scores of 30-27, 29-27 and 29-27.
Fighting out of Central Florida, Perry, 26, stalked Griffin from bell to bell, loading up on his signature right hand. Griffin relied on constant movement and clever counters to stay a step ahead, however, and even dropped Perry with a left hook in the second round.
Perry’s persistence finally paid off in the third, as he clipped Griffin with a right hand early and hurt him with a left hook moments later. Griffin was visibly shaken but managed to finish the round.
Griffin moved to 2-2 in the UFC with the victory. Perry, who has recorded a knockout in all of his 11 professional wins, suffered his second consecutive loss. He is 4-2 overall in the Octagon.