Hours before he was scheduled to square off with Yves Edwards at UFC on FX 5 in Minneapolis on Friday, Stephens was arrested in connection to a 2011 assault charge in Des Moines, Iowa. UFC President Dana White spent most of the day attempting to negotiate Stephen’s release so that he could face Edwards, but he was unable to reach an agreement with authorities in Iowa, so the fighter remained at the Hennepin County Public Safety Facility in downtown Minneapolis as the event concluded.
“I was willing to have two armed police officers bring him from jail, come fight tonight and bring him back to jail,” White said at Friday’s post-fight press conference.
While many of the details regarding the charges Stephens faces remain unclear, the 26-year-old’s management team, Evolution Agents, on Monday released a statement supporting its client.
“In 2011, Jeremy was attending a homecoming party in Des Moines, Iowa. A person in attendance became intoxicated and disorderly, and was asked to leave by the owner of the establishment,” the statement read. “The intoxicated individual subsequently became involved in a physical altercation with another person at the event. We have learned that, as the featured guest at the party, Jeremy's name came up during the police investigation of the assault.
“Prior to being detained the morning of October 5, 2012, in Minneapolis, Jeremy had never been arrested in connection with the assault, contacted about any possible charge and/or notified about any outstanding warrant by mail or any other means,” the statement continued. “Jeremy has lived at the same residence in San Diego and has maintained the same phone number for the past year or more. Jeremy also uses social media to provide updates on his training, and to thank fans, supporters, sponsors, and the UFC. In short, Jeremy is not a hard guy to find, which can be seen at www.LilHeathenMMA.com.”
Following UFC on FX 5, White claimed that Iowa law enforcement officials purposely waited until Friday to have Stephens arrested even though “Lil Heathen” had already been in Minnesota for most of the week. In Monday’s statement, Stephens’ team echoed that same sentiment.
“At this time, we do not know why Polk County [Iowa] authorities waited to have a warrant served on Jeremy until the morning of his fight. He arrived in Minnesota four days earlier, stayed at the hotel with other fighters for the event, and attended the public weigh-in on Thursday afternoon,” the statement read. “Because he was arrested so close to the time of the fight, arrangements for his release could not be made in time for him to compete despite the diligent efforts of the UFC. Minnesota state officials were great to deal with, but Polk County kept changing the deal making it impossible to get Jeremy released.”
A native of Iowa, Stephens now resides in San Diego, Calif., where he trains at Alliance MMA. He first appeared in the Octagon at UFC 71 in 2007, and has fashioned a 7-7 record during his tenure with the promotion. He last competed at UFC on Fuel TV 3 in May, dropping a unanimous decision to Donald Cerrone. According the Hennepin County records, Stephens remains in custody without bail.
“It will take some time for this unfortunate situation to be resolved. We ask that everyone be patient and wait for the truth to come out. We also would like to thank Jeremy’s fans who are standing by him during this tough time and especially Dana White and the staff at UFC for their incredible display of support for Jeremy throughout the ordeal,” the statement concluded. “There is nothing to hide, so we will keep everyone updated as things progress.”