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A longtime Ultimate Fighting Championship vet is returning to the weight class where he started his career.
For the first time since 2012, Jeremy Stephens (28-18, 1 NC) will be competing at lightweight, first reported by MMA Junkie on Thursday. “Lil Heathen” will meet Drakkar Klose (11-2-1) at his old weight category at a UFC Fight Night card on April 17 that will be held in the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Stephens initially dropped to 145 pounds against Estevan Payan at UFC 160 in 2013, and although he engaged in a few catchweight contests along the way, this will be his first official lightweight bout since then. Both men hinted at this upcoming fight news on their respective Instagram accounts, while Klose stated when he would be fighting.
Stephens struggled a few times to make weight as a 145er, coming in 3.5 pounds heavy against Dennis Bermudez in 2015 and most recently hitting the scales 4.5 pounds above the limit before meeting Calvin Kattar in 2020. The Alliance MMA fighter has gone on a bit of a skid since wins over Gilbert Melendez, Doo Ho Choi and Josh Emmett in 2017 and 2018. Four losses and a no contest greeted him along the way, with a pair of knockout setbacks to Jose Aldo and Kattar bookending the stretch and prompting a relocation. One of the most active fighters in organizational history, Stephens will be making his 34th appearance inside the Octagon in April, tying him with Andrei Arlovski for the third-most in the UFC.
Klose was recently booked against Jai Herbert and then Luis Pena at UFC Fight Night 185, only for the final matchup to dematerialize on fight day when one of Klose’s cornermen tested positive for COVID-19. With Klose not afflicted by the coronavirus, he was able to return to action without major changes. The Michigan native will be looking to bounce back from his first-ever stoppage loss, when he was separated from his consciousness by Beneil Dariush at UFC 248 following a torrid brawl. Since joining the roster in 2017, Klose has rattled off decision wins over names like Bobby Green, Lando Vannata and Marc Diakiese.
The currently unnumbered UFC Fight Night card on April 17 will take place at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Bringing the heat in the headliner will be Robert Whittaker against Paulo Costa at middleweight. Other matchups slated for the event include a middleweight clash between Gerald Meerschaert and Bartosz Fabinski, while a virtually guaranteed heavyweight banger between Chase Sherman and Parker Porter anchors the event.