Lightweights Jeremy Stephens and Drakkar Klose were scheduled to be part of UFC Vegas 24 in April. But the fight ended up getting scrapped after Stephens shoved Klose during the weigh-ins, causing a concussion and a neck sprain on the latter.
Two months later, ‘Lil Heathen’ is speaking up. As he told MMA Junkie in a recent interview, “it was just an experience.”
“I got paid a little bit of money just to go weigh in,” the 35-year-old veteran said. “I showed up, and he didn’t, you know?
“I never thought a push would go this far. I didn’t think he was going to act like that, respond like that and come at the UFC like that and make it a whole spectacle. From what I’ve heard, I feel like Dana had my back, the company had my back.
“I missed out on an opportunity to go in there and perform. All levels, I can look at it transparently. I’m very totally cool with exactly what I did. I’m a fighter. I’m primal in those moments.”
Stephens also gave his own backstory on what led to the push, which ultimately shifts the blame on Klose.
“Come up or not, hands behind your back, put your nose to nose with me, you broke conduct first. I didn’t come up to you,” he said. “And if you watch a video, he’s cutting off the ring. And I could see it in his eyes. He wants to come at me.
“And days before that, we were at the UFC PI, ‘Hey, what’s up?’ His wife or girlfriend or fiancee was like, ‘Hey, what’s up?’ His whole team was all cool, but I could see he was kind of getting crazy in there, and he’s kind of cutting off.
“As I got closer, he still kind of continues and got closer and closer. It was just a primal instinct just to shove that motherf—er back.
“Do I wish I would’ve went in there and highlighted him? I mean, what do you think I was going to do? I was going to f—ing try to concuss him on Saturday. I mean, you know how I get down.
“And he didn’t show up, and that’s that. I got a call from the UFC, and we get another fight, move on. What can I say? It was just an experience.”
Klose’s team recently told MMA Junkie that he is still reeling from the concussion brought on by the shove. But for Stephens, it’s all just a “bunch of f—ng excuses.”
“I don’t know what’s going on with him,” Stephens said. “He got knocked out pretty bad the fight before. If UFC wasn’t covering his coverage, that’s not the way to go about it. Reach out, call the f—ng medical (team) if you’re really hurt.
“I don’t feel like I caused a concussion. He just wasn’t ready. I came too hungry.
“If you watch his interviews, his training camps. He’s dealing with these injuries. He’s got a bunch of f—ng excuses and bullshit. If you watch my interviews, I was talking about my mom. I’m coming here hungry. I haven’t fought in a year. I’m f—ng on this losing streak.
“I’m coming to eat. Like, I’m gonna f—ng eat you up. I’m gonna knock you out, I’m gonna concuss you.
“I feel like my presence and the primal BOOM pushed him. I saw it in his eyes, bro, right then and there, I knew. From a fighter and a man to a man, when you get face-to-face with somebody, you just f—ing know, ‘I got you.’ He didn’t show up. I felt like I came too hungry, too primal.”
The UFC never confirmed if the fight will be rebooked or not. But with the feeling that he’d already “won” the fight, Stephens is already looking past the matchup.
“It’s a fight I won. I won. I got paid a little bit of money. I feel like I won. I showed up. He didn’t. He was claiming like, ‘Oh, I’m going to do this, do that.’ He was, like, crying. Bro, you should have just showed up and fought. But he didn’t.
“I don’t have any ill-will towards ‘Jaffar’ or anybody in his crew. I moved on. I’m at peace with myself. I’m very happy with the way that I showed up, primally ready to f—king fight.
“You know, Dana says that I’m a savage. I’m there to fight. You can just tell, again, by my interview, I showed up hungry. I conquered. I won.”
Stephens is now scheduled to face former KSW champion Mateusz Gamrot at UFC Vegas 31 on July 17.