Jeremy Stephens has been a cornerstone action fighter for the UFC for well over a decade now. First stepping into the Octagon at UFC 71, in 2007, Stephens has amassed a 15-15 record over his tenure with the promotion—including wins over former champions Rafael dos Anjos, Renan Barao, and Gilbert Melendez. However, the power-punching fighter out of Alliance MMA in San Diego is, perhaps, most notable for two moments outside the cage than anything else.
The most recent of those, came at a UFC 205 press conference, when Stephens answered a question aimed at Conor McGregor, asking who among the fighters on stage with the ‘Notorious’ Irishman, would give him the toughest fight. “Right here!” Stephens chimed in, only to end up lambasted by one of McGregor’s most meme-able moments.
But, way back in 2012, Stephens became synonymous with another inglorious piece of UFC press—when he was arrested the day of UFC on FX5, where he was supposed to be fighting Yves Edwards. The arrest stemmed from an outstanding warrant, the result of an alleged 2011 altercation between Stephens and another man in a parking lot. “Don’t listen to the media! Nobody ever told them Jeremy isn’t fighting. He is fighting!!” White wrote as news of Stephens’ arrest and the cancellation of his bout started to spread.
Jeremy Stephens did not fight that night.
Dana White explained his problems in trying to get Stephens out of the clink to MMA Fighting at the time, on what he says were charges that originally held a bail of $1,000 and $20,000.
“I cut the deal with people down in Des Moines, Iowa, to get him out,” he said. “I accept that deal too. They changed the deal. Every time I accepted the deal, they kept trying to make it harder and harder and harder. You know me, especially after I tweeted the media to shut up, I was devising a plan to break him out and get him over here to come out and do this fight. So, they finally made this deal for an astronomical amount of money to make the deal, and I agreed to it, and then they did it again. So they’re going to stick it to this kid big-time when he gets to Iowa.“
However, on a recent episode of Ariel and the Bad Guy on ESPN, Chael Sonnen gave viewers a few more details as to exactly how far White had been willing to go. Saying the the UFC president hauled Ronda Rousey and $150,000 down to the jail to try and get him out in time for his fight.
“Jeremy Stephens was supposed to do a fight on FOX,” Chael explained, setting the stage for the story. “The day of that fight, Ariel, he ends up in Jail! I can’t remember what happened; he’s handcuffed, he’s in jail. FOX is like, ‘Look, we’re pulling it.’ Dana says, ‘Oh no you’re not.’ Dana gets in a public fight through social media, says, ‘Jeremy Stephens will be on the card.’ FOX steps in and says, ‘We’re not putting the guy on the card that used to be in jail.’
“Dana happened to be doing business with Ronda Rousey. He takes Ronda Rousey, $150,000 in cash, goes down to the jail to get Jeremy Stephens out. Ronda told me that story herself. She said, ‘Yes, it was Dana and I and $150 grand.’ And guess what? They didn’t let him out.”
“But Ariel, picture that for a second. First off, where did he get $150 Gs on the spot? And secondly, Dana and Ronda come walking through the door!? It’s probably going to turn some heads, right? I mean, just picture that image though. ‘Hey, that’s my guy back there, I need him out.’”
Never knew the end of this story. Storytime with Chael P! pic.twitter.com/ic2idvQppu— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) September 18, 2019
White also said that he tried to cut a deal to have Stephens escorted by armed police officers to the arena for the fight, and then back to jail afterward. Hard to see why FOX was so reluctant to go along with what could have ended up as a whole new chapter in the Lee Murray Walkout Hall of Fame.