The UFC featherweight title fight at UFC 226 had an opportunity to be saved, but that’s not how things played out.
Originally the event was set to be co-headlined by UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway defending his title against Brian Ortega. Unfortunately “Blessed” was forced out of the fight after showing some scary concussion like symptoms.
Ortega was offered replacement opponents for the card, with an interim featherweight title being on the line, but the Californian opted to wait for Holloway and fight for the undisputed 145-pound crown later.
One such replacement opponent offered to “T-City” was none other than Jeremy Stephens. “Lil Heathen” was already preparing for a fight with former featherweight kingpin Jose Aldo on July 28th for UFC on FOX 30.
Stephens recently joined Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show and offered his thoughts on the fight with Ortega at UFC 226 never coming together (via MMA Mania):
“It’s really not my concern what that guy does. I stepped up and he stepped back. It is what it is, what can I do about it? I don’t want to sit here and talk about the guy, I really don’t know him personally,” he said.
“I am willing to fight and all I know is that this is the third time that my name has been in his ear. He has seen me fight a lot, in the front row, and seen me knock a motherfucker out. I mean, you tell me.”
He was then asked if he thinks Ortega is trying to avoid a fight with the knockout artist. This is what Stephens had to say:
“Those are facts, bro. Deny all you want, he stepped back and I stepped up. They said they were going to fight somebody else, Frankie, and I said take it and then they called it off,” he said.
There has been no update on Holloway’s health or the current state of the 145-pound title. With that being said, Stephens noted he’d be open to a featherweight title fight against Ortega as soon as UFC 227 in Los Angeles on August 4th:
“I told Dana that I will go to that kid’s mama’s house in L.A. and fight him in his front yard. I’ll fight him August 4, why not? Jose Aldo lost two title fights, he is out. I’ve been in the sport 11 years, putting on dominant performances, why not give him to me right now? Let’s set it up for September 8,” said.
“This kid is ducking me. Whether I fight Jose or not, they can pull me off this card and I will fight this kid in L.A. on August 4. I will go to his backyard, fight him there and pull his gangster card,” he added. “I saw on Embedded where he is talking about he used to show up to domes and bar fights where you look at a guy, you are the same weight and you fought.
“Well I don’t know if he was there with his little jiu-jitsu crew watching guys like me who actually stepped up and fought grown men when I was 16 years old and I wasn’t even supposed to be there. That was me, I was really living that type of life. I do this shit for fun, because I love it.”
What are your thoughts on Stephen’s comments towards Ortega? Let us know in the comments section below!