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Jeremy Stephens built his career on entertaining the masses, so the fact that his trophy case remains void of a major mixed martial arts championship seems of little consequence.
The Alliance MMA mainstay will attempt to score his first win in more than three years when he returns to the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s lightweight division and toes the line against Drakkar Klose in the UFC on ESPN 22 co-main event on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Stephens, 34, has gone 0-4 with one no contest across his past five appearances. He last competed at UFC 249, where he succumbed to a volley of second-round elbows from Calvin Kattar on May 9. Wins over Rafael dos Anjos, Renan Barao, Gilbert Melendez, Doo Ho Choi and Josh Emmett anchor his resume.
As Stephens prepares for his three-round battle with Klose, here are five things you might not know about him:
1. He was raised in the cage.
Stephens won six fights as a teenager. He made his professional debut as an 18-year-old prospect on Jan. 12, 2015, as he punched out Ted Worthington in just 33 seconds under the Downtown Destruction banner. Stephens compiled a 6-1 record before he turned 20, a submission loss to Chris Mickle his only misstep. He defeated Mickle in two subsequent rematches.
2. Quick-strike offense has been a calling card.
The Eric Del Fierro protégé has 13 first-round finishes to his credit, accounting for 46% of his professional win total (28). Two of those victories were of the sub-minute variety. In addition to his aforementioned knockout of Worthington, Stephens laid waste to “The Ultimate Fighter Brazil” Season 1 winner Rony Mariano Bezerra with a head kick 40 seconds into their UFC Fight Night 32 pairing on Nov. 9, 2013.
3. He monetized his violent tendencies.
Stephens has banked 10 post-fight bonuses across his 33 appearances inside the Octagon. He has been awarded “Fight of the Night” six times, “Knockout of the Night” three times and “Performance of the Night” once, resulting in $515,000 of additional income. Only nine fighters—Donald Cerrone (18), Charles Oliveira (16), Joe Lauzon (15), Nate Diaz (15), Anderson Silva (14), Jim Miller (12), Dustin Poirier (12), Frankie Edgar (11) and Tony Ferguson (11)—have been recognized more by the UFC.
4. Availability has never been an issue.
The Des Moines, Iowa, native has established himself as one of the UFC’s most reliable competitors—a fact that has allowed him to remain on the roster for more than a decade despite a middling 15-17 record. Stephens ranks second on the promotion’s all-time list in knockdowns landed (18), fourth in appearances (33) and fifth in total fight time (6:28:27).
5. He never backs down from a challenge.
Stephens has suffered more defeats (17) in the UFC than any other fighter. The 17 men who have beaten him have 446 victories between them: Lauzon (28), Cerrone (36), Edgar (24), Oliveira (30), Kattar (22), Din Thomas (26), Spencer Fisher (24), Gleison Tibau (35), Melvin Guillard (32), Anthony Pettis (24), Yves Edwards (42), Cub Swanson (27), Max Holloway (22), Renato Carneiro (14), Jose Aldo (29), Zabit Magomedsharipov (18) and Yair Rodriguez (13).