The first fight scheduled for UFC 160 tonight in Las Vegas is a featherweight clash between Jeremy Stephens (20-9 MMA, 7-8 UFC) and Estevan Payan (14-3, 1 NC MMA, 0-0 UFC). It's Stephens' featherweight debut and Payan's UFC debut as he comes over from Strikeforce.
Stephens has his back against the wall having lost his last 3 fights. Payan meanwhile his undefeated in his last 8 bouts and has knocked out 4 of his last 5 opponents. The UFC 160 prelims start on Facebook at 6:30 PM ET/3:30 PM PT, and continue on FX at 8:00 PM ET/5:00 PM PT.
How do these two stack up?
Stephens: 26 years old | 5'9" | 71" reach
Payan: 31 years old | 5'10" | 72" reach
What have these two done recently?
How did these two get here?
"Lil Heathen" is known for his wild striking, powerful hands, and entertaining fights, but in recent times he's struggled to manage even a win in the UFC. Since his consecutive defeats over Marcus Davis and Danny Downes, Stephen has dropped 3 in a row. Truth be told, there is no shame in losing to contenders Cerrone and Pettis, but his loss to Yves Edwards marked his first ever KO loss and it stands as his final fight at LW. He's fortunate to be in the UFC given his losing streak and his pending assault trial this summer,and his featherweight debut could be his last chance.
Payan has fought primarily in Nevada, Arizona, and Texas, and his first experience in one of the bigger promotions was Bellator's inaugural season back in 2009. The Arizonian made it to the semifinals of the FW tourney but lost by KO against Yahir Reyes after a tremendous spinning back-fist. Payan lost his next fight to ex-WEC fighter Karen Darabedyan by TKO, but in the last 4 years he's amassed 7 wins and one no-contest. He earned a trip to the UFC by TKOing Mike Bravo in Strikeforce's final event this past January. His UFC debut against Stephens marks a return to 145 lbs, as Strikeforce did not have a FW division.
Why should you care?
There's the significant possibility that this is "loser gets cut", but even ignoring that this is a matchup of two strikers, so this should be an exciting opener.