The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Brazil" winner, Jason, came in on the heels of an eight-fight mixed martial arts (MMA) win streak. Meanwhile, Stephens sat with a rather pedestrian 8-8 record in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
That didn't matter one bit in Goiania.
Stephens showed amazing power at his new home in the Featherweight division, earning a vicious knockout in less than one minute over crowd favorite Jason. "Lil' Heathen" caught Jason leaning into an absolutely brutal headkick while throwing a wild overhand right. Stephens followed up with a huge power punch on the ground, but it was completely unnecessary.
Stephens looks like he has a huge power advantage at Featherweight. He was beginning to stagnate at Lightweight; now he's beginning to look like a monster. He's now won his only two fights at 145-pounds, and this victory was undoubtedly more impressive than his decision win over Estevan Payan at UFC 160.
"Lil' Heathen" could be a dark horse contender in a division full of rising talent. He should face off with a top ten opponent in his next trip to the cage, but it's going to be tough to figure out just who that will be. Many of the best UFC Featherweights are currently booked. The winner of UFC 168's Dustin Poirier vs. Diego Brandao fight would make a great opponent for the surging Stephens. The winner of Dennis Siver vs. Manvel Gamburyan is an interesting prospect as well.
It's a massively deflating loss for Jason. He had an opportunity to record a huge win over a well-known opponent in his homeland of Brazil and he simply couldn't capitalize. In a crowded division like Featherweight, there's no room to drop down the pecking order whatsoever. The momentum of his win streak disappeared with Stephens' lightning fast headkick, and now he'll have to claw his way back up the ladder.
The opening bout of UFC Fight Night 32's main card started the event in an extremely explosive manner that left the Brazilian crowd silent and in shock. Submission whiz Jason never had even close to a chance to implement his world-class ground game. Stephens can legitimately stake a claim at a fight against one of the best Featherweights UFC has to offer. Don't be surprised if he shows up on the rankings sooner than later.
Jeremy Stephens showed that he has shocking knockout power at Featherweight by knocking out the tough Rony Jason in Brazil. What's next for the streaking "Lil' Heathen?"