UFC 136's Jeremy Stephens on Anthony Pettis: 'I'm going to destroy him'
Here at MMAjunkie.com, we largely avoid the typical pre-fight banter and promises of destruction when it comes to headlines and story intros.
But with Jeremy Stephens, an ultra-confident lightweight who meets Anthony Pettis at Saturday's UFC 136 event, it's not so much trash-talk as statements of fact.
As far as Stephens is concerned, he's not threatening anything. He's just telling you how Saturday plays out: He's going to hunt down Pettis, work the body, hit the chin, and "destroy him."
Stephens (20-6 MMA, 7-5 UFC), of course, meets Pettis (13-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) in a featured UFC 136 preliminary-card bout. The event takes place at Houston's Toyota Center, and Stephens vs. Pettis is one of two bouts airing on Spike TV prior to the night's pay-per-view main card.
Since its announcement, Stephens vs. Pettis has been pegged as an early "Fight of the Night" candidate. Stephens, though, thinks it's going to be a lot more one-sided than most predict.
"I thought stylistically this was a great matchup for me," he today told MMAjunkie.com Radio (MMAjunkie.com Radio | MMAjunkie.com). "I don't think he's really going to stand in front of me. I don't think he likes to get hit. I think he's going to be on his horse a little bit."
Stephens, who's 2-0 since a close split-decision defeat to Melvin Guillard at UFC 119, said he's a better fighter now than he's ever been during his seven-year career.
"That Guillard fight, I learned a lot from that loss," said Stephens, who's now 4-1 over his past five fights. "I worked on my footwork, so I'm going to chase him down and hunt him down and beat him up. It's going to be a great fight. It's going to be my night, and I'm going to go in there and destroy him."
And though his hands – which have resulted in 14 knockout wins in 20 career victories – are expected to rule the day, he said he's prepared for anything against the former WEC champion.
"I feel like I can knock out heavyweights at times," Stephens said. "I have a lot of confidence in my hands. But I have a lot of confidence in my grappling abilities and my wrestling. Everything is improving.
"When I go to fight Anthony Pettis, I'm 100 percent positive I can beat him in all areas."
In fact, Stephens is so confident he has no real problem sharing his game plan for the fight. Of course, it's the same game plan he's used for just about every fight since his days on Iowa's regional circuit.
And though Pettis possesses some of the most prolific and creative striking in the division, Stephens is willing fight fire with fire against the Roufusport member.
"I've got to cut him off," Stephens said. "I have to pressure him. I can let him set. I've got to move around and change angles. I need to get in a lot of exchanges with him. Sooner or later, I'll hurt his body, and I'll touch his chin, and he'll go to sleep.
"I dedicated my entire life for a fight like this, so I'm ready to go. I'm in a really good state of mind, and my health is really great. So I'm ready to rock."