Former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar drew loud cheers from the Madison Square Garden crowd, as he headlined the UFC 205: Alvarez vs. McGregor preliminary card against Jeremy Stephens. Edgar was looking to return to the win column after losing his interim title fight vs. Jose Aldo, whereas Stephens had just beaten former bantamweight champion Renan Barao. “Lil’ Heathen” entered the bout as a big underdog, but with a chance to make a huge leap in the featherweight rankings by knocking off yet another former champ.
The fans chanted “Who the f**k is that guy?” at Stephens, in reference to McGregor’s verbal putdown of him at a UFC 205 presser. As for the actual fight, Edgar had his first two takedown attempts stopped by Stephens. The third time wasn’t the charm but he did have Jeremy’s neck and threw some knees to the head. Edgar worked and worked and took Stephens down twice with his chain wrestling, but Jeremy sprung back up quickly. Edgar was poked in the eye, which led to a brief stoppage. Frankie said he was fine, the doctors concurred, and the fight resumed. The striking aspect of round 1 wasn’t particularly notable, both men got their licks in but it was fairly infrequent.
Edgar punched Stephens in the groin early in round 2, but it didn’t take long for a restart. The former champion found success with body and leg kicks. Stephens was unable to land his power shots, and Edgar was able to get a takedown and brief control of his back. Stephens proved to be hard to hold down, as he was back to his feet and free from Edgar’s grasp within seconds. Stephens blocked the knee-tap takedown, as Edgar mixed in various takedown attempts. Big head kick by Stephens dropped Edgar and then clipped with a knee. Edgar tried to buy time and recover but he was still clearly in trouble. Stephens wasn’t particularly aggressive in pursuing the finish, perhaps a bit overly cautious. Edgar came back with a three-punch combo, then ducked under for a lovely takedown. Edgar went for a guillotine and then adjusted it in mount but Stephens was out of it. Edgar went for the mounted guillotine again with just seconds left in the round and it looked to be tight, but time ran out and Stephens survived an incredible round.
Stephens opened up the 3rd round with a hard outside leg kick. Edgar timed another takedown to perfection and into half-guard. Stephens went for a kimura from the bottom, and Edgar was free a few seconds later, with Stephens not able to muster even a kimura sweep. Edgar had Stephens in back mount with one hook in. Stephens was back to his feet and then was slammed back down just as quickly. He got up the 2nd time and separated from Edgar and started letting his hands go. Stephens caught Edgar with a right hand. The action slowed in the final minute or so, and Stephens didn’t show enough urgency to get a finishing shot on Edgar. When he did throw it was wild and loopy. Stephens did swing for the fences in the closing seconds but he caught air and not Edgar. Nearly a famous knockout win for Stephens, but Edgar showed his legendary durability once again and got the decision win.
Official result: Frankie Edgar def. Jeremy Stephens by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
#TheAnswer lands! #UFC205 #UFCNYC @FrankieEdgar https://t.co/fGRb7tYKhk— #UFC205 (@ufc) November 13, 2016
Ohh!!!! @LilHeathenMMA with the knockdown! #UFC205 #UFCNYC https://t.co/WkskotMFZr— #UFC205 (@ufc) November 13, 2016
WHAT A FIGHT!!!!!! #UFC205 #UFCNYC https://t.co/G6hmLIYljn— #UFC205 (@ufc) November 13, 2016