To kick off the UFC 215 main card, Jeremy Stephens cut Gilbert Melendez down with vicious leg kicks for three rounds en route to a dominant decision victory.
Jeremy Stephens hit a serious rough patch in the UFC for the last three years, as he lost five of his previous seven heading into tonight’s main card matchup. Tonight was Stephen’s 26th UFC fight, as he has been in the UFC for over ten years but has never really been close to title contention. Tonight he needed a victory if he wanted to shed his gatekeeper status anytime soon.
Gilbert Melendez had not won a fight in nearly four years going into tonight’s fight and has dropped three straight against Anthony Pettis, Eddie Alvarez, and Edson Barboza. The former Strikeforce champion is currently 1-4 in the UFC, a trend he hoped to shake tonight. Melendez dropped down from lightweight to featherweight for a fresh start and needed to make a statement against Stephens to get his career back on track.
The much-anticipated fight started slowly with a feeling out process, but Stephens landed a leg kick that formed a knot under the knee of Melendez that would take out the base of Melendez and take away all of his mobility throughout the round. Whenever Stephens would land a kick to that left leg, Melendez would crumple to the ground. Melendez fought back valiantly, but all Stephens had to do was target the leg.
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Before the beginning of the round, the official called for a break to get the leg checked and the doctor deemed it ok to continue. Melendez dug in and tried to switched stances to keep Stephens from reaching his wounded leg with the kicks.
The strategy would work for about half the round before Stephens would drop him again with another hard leg kick. Melendez’s movement was completely shot, but still fought back like the tough guy he’s always been but just couldn’t get out of the way.
Stephens proceeded to walk Melendez down throughout the final round, but Melendez absolutely refused to quit after being dropped with the kicks yet again. However, Stephens took complete advantage of Melendez’s destroyed movement and picked him to pieces, landing stiff jabs to set up his leg kicks that would drop Melendez twice more, and likely could have finished the fight if he didn’t follow Melendez to the ground, but still dominated all the way to the final bell.
However, Stephens took complete advantage of Melendez’s destroyed movement and picked him to pieces, landing stiff jabs to set up his leg kicks that would drop Melendez twice more, and likely could have finished the fight if he didn’t follow Melendez to the ground, but still dominated all the way to the final bell.
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The judge’s score card read 30-26, 30-26, and 30-25 in favour of the clear winner, Jeremy Stephens, who got himself back on track with a dominant victory tonight. This was one of the versions of Stephens we had seen in a very long time, and if he could keep this up, who knows where he could go next.