UFC on FOX 28: Josh Emmett vs Jeremy Stephens (Fight Preview)

Having only fought just over a month ago, Jeremy Stephens dons the gloves once again to attempt a hat trick of victories against rising star Josh Emmett this Saturday night in Orlando, Florida.

It is fair to say that Jeremy Stephens (27-14) had been on a slippery slope in recent times but the #7 ranked featherweight finds himself on the verge of claiming a third victory in a row having recently knocked off South Korean prospect, Doo Ho Choi back in January.

In his way is #4 Josh Emmett (13-1) who to many, is a surprise package at 145lbs. Recently coming off a significant KO of Ricardo Lamas in the tail end of 2017, Emmett under the guidance of Team Alpha Male is on the hunt for glory and is looking to make a statement in his first headliner as a UFC fighter.

SILENT BUT DEADLY

With just 5 fights to his name thus far, Josh Emmett has just one defeat in his short stint for the promotion in a close split decision defeat to Desmond Green last April.

Emmett has since wasted little time in making amends for that defeat and has beaten Felipe Arantes and RicardoMA Lamas by vicious KO which announced Emmett as a force to be reckoned with in the Featherweight division.

Weight cutting was an issue for Emmett the last time out and speaking post-fight Emmett took full responsibility for him missing weight and promised UFC officials and fans that it would not happen again.

Emmett has gone the distance on several occasions throughout his pro career but this will be the first time he will have gone for a potential 25 minutes against one of the division’s most recognisable fighters.

 MATURITY PAYING DIVIDENDS

Jeremy Stephens has had what you may call, a renaissance since moving to 145lbs. In what will be his third fight at featherweight, he is 2-0 when he faces Josh Emmett.

Stephens’ last two fights have been incredibly mature performances from a renowned brawler. Brawls which often saw him skid into the defeat column. These days, Stephens cuts a more calm and composed fighter and as a result, he headlines his second main event in as many fights.

Ranked #7, Stephens did question the legitimacy of Emmett’s fourth place ranking especially since he missed weight which would have given him a distinct advantage in his last outing vs Ricardo Lamas.

Not one to dwell on such matters, Stephens has a big chance to knock off a big prospect and set his sights on Max Holloway atop the ladder.

THE FIGHT

At the time of writing, Jeremy Stephens is the 8/13 favourite with Johs Emmett coming in at 6/5 (Odds: Paddy Power – Correct at time of writing) but many would suggest that this fight is much closer than the odds would suggest.

We all know that Stephens has big power in his hands but Emmett appears to be able to match him and possess a strong overhand right that Stephens will need to be wary of.

It’s the leg kicks that Emmett needs to be mindful of. Stephens likes to throw all manner of kicks from all angles and he likes to do so early and often.

Emmett’s base in his last fight with Ricardo Lamas was quite wide and is susceptible to inside leg kicks if not careful and the way he throws big shots over the top means his legs are often planted and if Stephens catches him with a heavy leg kick, it could nullify any offence Emmett has and buckle him or push him backwards where he doesn’t want to be.

As has already been alluded to, Stephens’ maturity in his recent bouts have not caused him to rush in and attempt anything needless. Emmett does like to push the action a lot and if he can score early in the fight, it may play mental games with Lil’ Heathen who may throw wild shots of his own to sway the judges.

If the fight turns into a brawl, Stephens does tend to wing punches and leave himself exposed and with the new found power of Josh Emmett, he will be confident that a strong flurry can finish the fight.

THE VERDICT

This is a very important fight atop the featherweight division and style points will be crucial to stake a claim at the gold.

Jeremy Stephens was made to miss against Doo Ho Choi when the South Korean made it ugly and did get clipped a couple of times. Stephens needs to keep his discipline and poke at Emmett until something shows for him.

As for Josh Emmett, he needs to close the distance early and drag Stephens into a fight that throws his gameplan out of the window completely. An early swarm from the opening bell may give him the edge in the early goings but he also needs to find the perfect balance especially when it’s his first time competing in a 5 round fight.

It’s a very close fight on paper and one which has a lot of intrigue about it considering what is potentially at stake for both fighters.

You can catch all the action from 11pm on BT Sport 2

WritingIrish Prediction: Jeremy Stephens via Decision

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