Jeremy Stephens was the unexpected star for all the wrong reasons at the September news conference promoting UFC 205 in New York City.
After the UFC veteran made an attempt to call out featherweight champion Conor McGregor, the Irishman embarrassed him, asking, “Who the [expletive] is that guy?”
The clip immediately went viral and even aired on late-night shows, but Stephens is trying to put the incident behind him.
“I’m not worried about any of that, I’m focused on Nov. 12,” Stephens said. “Frankie Edgar, me vs. him, me punishing him and just me winning, me embracing this moment.”
Stephens will face Edgar, the former lightweight champion, at the UFC’s first show at Madison Square Garden, and he wants to make his mark on the historic event.
“Legends have fought here,” Stephens said. “I plan on having a legendary night and having my name on one of these monumental plaques on the wall here at Madison Square Garden.”
Both men have earned their spot on the card after putting in their time with the UFC. Stephens first fought with the promotion at UFC 71 in 2007 and has amassed a 12-11 record inside the octagon. Edgar made his promotional debut at UFC 67, also in 2007, and fought his way to a lightweight title in 2010, putting together a 14-5-1 record in his UFC career. The men have 43 fights between them but have yet to face each other.
“I thought for sure we would have crossed paths sooner than later. We were both at 155, both at 145,” Edgar said. “He’s a gamer. He’s a true fighter at heart. He brings it every time. Saturday’s gonna be no different.”
Stephens believes he’ll be facing the “true champion” at 145 pounds after Edgar wasn’t given a chance to fight McGregor despite a five-fight win streak earlier this year. Edgar instead fought Jose Aldo for an interim belt, falling in a five-round unanimous decision.
“Conor ran from him, so, I feel like Frankie’s a tough fight and a lot of people would run from Frankie,” Stephens said. “I embrace that, I’m going to run right into him and collide and he’s going to fall down.”
Stephens believes embracing the tough opponent and atmosphere will help him come through on Saturday.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge. The challenge is driving me to be better, do better, do more, get more out of it,” Stephens said. “I’m thriving, dude, I’m pumped up.”