EXCLUSIVE | Josh Emmett believes win over Jeremy Stephens could be more valuable than win over Brian Ortega

Josh Emmett

Back in December of 2017, Team Alpha Male staple Josh Emmett authored the best win of his career thus far, smashing Ricardo Lamas to a first-round knockout win. With this impressive victory, Emmett surged up the UFC featherweight ladder, usurping the number-four spot in the division’s rankings.

In the wake of this career-changing win, Emmett quickly began campaigning or a fight with fellow contender Brian Ortega, who recently won big with a submission of Cub Swanson. Unfortunately, Ortega didn’t seem interested in this fight, and opted to wait for his shot at the winner of Max Holloway and Frankie Edgar’s upcoming title fight.

The good news is that Emmett ultimately found an opponent that he believes might be even more suitable than Ortega: brick-fisted veteran Jeremy Stephens, who he’ll fight in the main event of UFC on Fox 28 February 24. In his eyes, a win over Stephens would be harder for skeptical fans to discredit than a win over the young Ortega.

“In my mind, I just have a feeling what the critics would say, what the fans would say,” Josh Emmet said on the latest stacked episode of BJ Penn Radio. “Say Ortega and I were to fight, say I got the win, I could already hear it now, people saying ‘ok, [Ortega is] still kinda green. He wasn’t ready.’ This and that. But with Jeremy Stephens, a win over him, I cannot be denied, because look at the past fights he’s had and the opponents he’s fought, and he’s been at the top of the game. I think Jeremy Stephens should be in the top five. So I think this fight right here is the title eliminator fight.”

“You know, Ortega, obviously, he’s a great fighter,” Emmett continued “He’s 13-0, he’s 5-0 in the UFC, [he has] a lot of finishes, he’s obviously fought some good fighters and stuff, but his most notable win is over Cub Swanson. Other than that, he fought Clay Guida – Clay Guida’s a legend – you know Hacran Dias, he was doing really well at one time, and it seems like I’m not sure what’s going on, he kinda fell off a little bit…’

“But for me, I just beat the number-three guy, and if I can go in there and beat Jeremy Stephens, and maybe get a devastating finish… [Stephens has] fought the who’s who at [lightweight and featherweight]. He’s fought [Anthony] Pettis, [Donald] Cerrone. He knocked out [Rafael dos Anjos], that was the former lightweight champion who’s going to fight for the welterweight title soon. He fought Max Holloway. He fought Frankie Edgar, and none of these guys could finish him, you know what I mean?”

“That’s my whole thought process. I wanna go out there, and I will look for the finish. I know it’s gonna be just a tough-as-hell fight, be for me, I think we’re gonna see who can endure more pain, who has more will, who has more heart to win, and I’m not stopping. He’s showed it time and time, we all know that he’s not stopping. Someone’s getting knocked out.”

How do you think Josh Emmett will perform opposite the dangerous veteran Jeremy Stephens?

This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 1/28/2018.