While he calls San Diego his home right now, Jeremy Stephens was born in Iowa. That made Sunday night’s UFC Fight Night 124 win over Dooho Choi a pretty special one, as the event took place from the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
Following a back-and-forth first round, Stephens locked in on Choi, stopping the young prospect in the second with strikes. It was the 16th knockout or TKO finish for the 31-year-old, as he moved to 26-14 in his career.
“It’s a great win and close to my hometown, so I’m pretty pumped,” he said. “The game plan is always to go in there and whoop him before he whoops me.”
Stephens, who has fought in the UFC for over a decade, used his experience to change things up between rounds. Choi was fighting for the first time since a late 2016 loss to Cub Swanson, while this was the third fight since April for Stephens, as he also bested Gilbert Melendez this past September following a loss to Renato Moicano.
“He had a long layoff and had time to prepare,” Stephens said. “Within that first round, I was a little frustrated, but knew I had 25 minutes to work. I came out in the second round and came out swinging.”
As for what’s next for Stephens, he is targeting a bout with Top-5 contender Brian Ortega. Ortega, who finished Swanson recently, was in attendance to watch the contest first-hand.
“Thanks, it’s been 11 years and still rocking and rolling,” Stephen said. “Brian Ortega, I saw him walking through the lobby and I want to fight people in front of me. There’s a lot of hype behind that kid.”
Stephens scored his fifth career “Fight of the Night” bonus in the win, as he’s also earned the honor with Renan Barao, Swanson, Sam Stout and Melendez previously, along with three “Knockout of the Night” performances.