Jeremy Stephens is itching for a fight with Justin Gaethje.
Shortly after Gaethje’s stunning first-round knockout of Edson Barboza at UFC on ESPN 2, ‘Lil Heathen’ respectfully called out ‘The Highlight’ on social media.
Jeremy Stephens declares his interest in fighting Justin Gaethje via the UFC’s Instagram page. #UFC pic.twitter.com/RjwMsYUAs4— Steven Rae (@StevenRaeMMA) April 1, 2019
“Sign me up,” Stephens posted on Instagram.
Although Gaethje vs. Stephens would make for a compelling bout, Stephens is coming off a loss to featherweight prospect Zabit Magomedsharipov and has been removed from the official UFC lightweight rankings. Gaethje, on the other hand, is riding a two-fight win streak (2 KO’s) and recently surged into the top-five at 155-pounds.
For those reasons, it’s highly unlikely we’ll see the UFC book the match-up anytime soon.
Following his knockout win over Barboza, Gaethje called out undefeated UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, telling reporters at a UFC on ESPN 2 post-fight media scrum that he’s ‘one of the biggest threats to his title.’
“My ability to stop takedowns (would make me a bad matchup),” Gaethje said. “I am a Division 1 wrestler. I was a Division 1 All-American, I placed seventh in 2010 and my ability to scramble and avoid takedowns is something he’s never faced. And the power.
“He’s faced the power, but never with the ability to stop takedowns and scramble. The combination of the two.”
Gaethje is 3-2 in the UFC and has earned post-fight bonuses in all five of his bouts inside the Octagon. The 30-year-old knockout artist is widely considered one of the most entertaining fighters in MMA.