Longtime lightweight Jeremy Stephens will change things up after the calendar turns with a drop to featherweight.
The fighter recently announced the planned change of divisions on Twitter, and MMAjunkie.com (MMAjunkie.com
) confirmed news of the switch with Stephens' manager, Ryan Hass.
Hass said the plan is for Stephens to do a test cut to 145 in January after helping wrap Alliance MMA teammate Myles Jury's prep for next week's UFC 155 bout against Michael Johnson.
"It shouldn't be a problem and (we're) looking for a fight by March," Hass said. "His last couple fights have been on short notice, so he's looking to get a full camp with a nutritionist and tweak his training to bring up his speed, but not lose any muscle or power. He'll be a contender at 145 quick. He likes 155 and it was never his idea to drop, but after consideration, he's pumped about it."
Stephens (20-9 MMA, 7-8 UFC) earlier this month dropped his third straight fight in the UFC's lightweight division when he was knocked out for the first time in his career. Yves Edwards stopped him at the 1:55 mark of the first round at UFC on FOX 5.
Prior to that, the Iowa native dropped a split decision to Anthony Pettis at UFC 137 and a unanimous nod to Donald Cerrone at UFC on FUEL TV 3.
The last time "Lil' Heathen" had his hand raised was a unanimous decision win over Danny Downes at the TUF 13 Finale in June 2011. Before that, he picked up a thrilling "Knockout of the Night" win over Marcus Davis at UFC 125. That was his fourth career bonus win in the UFC and third for best knockout.
Stephens becomes the latest in a long line of notable fighters to drop from lightweight to try the waters in the UFC's featherweight division, including former lightweight champ Frankie Edgar, Dennis Siver, TUF winner Ross Pearson, Kenny Florian and Darren Elkins.