Stephens being finished by Yves Edwards at UFC on Fox 5 - Photo via Esther Lin of MMA Fighting
A look at the process used by Washington to grant UFC fighter Jeremy Stephens a fight license in the state of Washington despite pending assault charges in Iowa. Including a letter from Stephens to the state explaining his side of the story.
There were some who were shocked when UFC president Dana White appeared to go to extreme lengths in an effort to save an undercard fight between Yves Edwards and Jeremy Stephens on UFC on FX 5 when Stephens was arrested the morning of the fight on an outstanding warrant. The warrant was for an October 2011 assault charge for an incident in Des Moines.
White attempted all manner of methods to get Stephens out of jail that day, even if just for the duration of the fight but was unable to save the bout.
Somewhat surprisingly, the UFC went ahead and rescheduled the bout for this weekend's UFC on Fox 5 undercard.
Knowing what I know about how licensing processes work for state athletic commissions I was somewhat surprised that someone with a trial set to start in roughly a month -- and a pretrial conference the week after the fight -- would be licensed to fight.
I called the Washington State Department of Licensing the week before the fight and asked about the process and decision to grant Stephens a fight license. I was informed by media relations spokesperson that Stephens was, in her words, up front with them about the pending charges and extremely honest about it all. Given that they are just charges at the time and there has not been a conviction, the state felt comfortable granting his fighter license.
If he had been found guilty of the charges they were "not sure" if they would have granted him a license to fight. But that those decisions have to be made on a case-by-case basis after a review of the charges.
Additionally, I was able to obtain a copy of Stephens' Washington application for a fighter's license from the department. The form asks about prior convictions or pending charges and, should the fighter answer yes, requires a written explanation detailing the situation.
Here is Stephens' letter giving his side of the situation:
Summary of pending charges;
I had a party in Des Moines, IA, October of 2011, at a local bar. Two guys got into a physical altercation outside in the partking lot of my party. One guy got beat up pretty bad and the other was arrested.
There were numberous witnesses of this altercation, my manager being one of them. I was notified I could face a civil suit due to it being my party but I was never contacted about this.
A year later, I was served with a warrant and arrested for assault, which was a complete surprise. I had nothing to do with this and not even guilty by association as I didn't even know it was going on. I knew once it was over and numerous people came back in the bar and told me.
I have no idea why I'm being brought into this situation, other than the suspect doing anything possible to get out of trouble and the victims coming ater the guy who they think has the money. I would never do anything like this and there are numerous people that have put in affidavits and deposition giving their side, proving I had nothing to do with it.
I hope that the case is dismissed soon, otherwise I will take it all the way to trial next year and prove my innocence. This whole situation has been very tough on me, especially financially as this has cost me more money than I have, just on my defense team.
As of right now, my lawyer is taking care of matters to make sure the ball is rolling in the right direction. Worst case scenario, I have a court date on January 9th that I need to appear. Until then I'm doing everything asked and will not be a problem.
I have no restrictions or anything like that. If I leave the country, I just have to notify them. That is it. I hope to get this cleared up asap so I can move on and prove my innocence. This has been hurting my family, myself and numerous others so much and I can't wait to put it to rest.
If you have any further questions, feel free to e-mail me at *
Jeremy Dean Stephens
Of course, there has been some debate as to if Stephens truly was unaware of the warrant. Records from Iowa seem to point to Stephens having been in contact with his attorney months before the arrest.
The culinary union added also Stephens' situation to their smear campaign against the UFC in the days leading up to the Fox show. Stephens would lose his fight to Edwards by knockout.
Regardless, we now have a better understanding of the thought process from the state that went into the licensing of Stephens despite the pending charges and the process Stephens had to go through to get that license in Washington for the fight.
* I removed the e-mail address from the letter