Jeremy Stephens defends controversial strikes thrown during finish of Josh Emmett

Jeremy Stephens

On Saturday night, in the main event of the UFC’s anticipated return to Orlando, Florida, featherweight knockout artist Jeremy Stephens authored yet another brutal stoppage win, this time at the expense of Josh Emmett.

Unfortunately, Stephen’s knockout win, which left Emmett with a shattered orbital bone, was shadowed in controversy, as several of the strikes in the fight-ending sequence were widely believed to be illegal. The most questionable strikes of the bunch were a series of elbows that seemed to land on the back of the head, and a knee strike (which thankfully didn’t seem to land which much impact), that was certainly illegal under some MMA rulesets…

Speaking on the UFC Orlando post-fight show, Jeremy Stephens defended his victory, and the questionable strikes that served as the catalyst for it.

“Guys look, I’m going for the finish here. I’m looking to elbow,” Stephens said (h/t MMALatest). If they turn their head, the ref will tell you it’s OK cause he’s turning his head so make the adjustment. In that moment, I’m elbowing, elbowing, looking for it. He looked under and I nailed a couple. When I fought [Dooho] Choi, I elbowed the referee in the back of the head. He jumped in.

“Guys, I’m not a dirty fighter,” he continued. “I am a killer. I train to finish. I’m going for it, I’m landing big shots there. I don’t mean to hit people in the back of the head but if they turn that’s not my problem.”

Speaking on the controversial knee strike specifically, Stephens explained that referee Dan Miragliotta had given the ok to this type of blow in his pre-fight locker room briefing. What this means is that Stephens was either given inaccurate information, or he misunderstood the referee’s brief. Whatever the case, we’re looking at the latest SNAFU caused by MMA’s grotesquely inconsistent ruleset…

“The referee Dan Miragliotta came in the back, he said this is the new unified rules that if two hands are down, you can lift one hand up to knee, that’s OK,” Stephens explained. “So if he’s on his knees and one hand is up, it’s OK to throw a knee. I’m not a dirty fighter, I never have been my whole life. I saw an opportunity, I was looking for it. I don’t even think I landed the knee. It was the left hook that dropped him.”

Whatever the case, Stephens isn’t worried about developing a rep as a dirty fighter. For him, it’s all about the almighty dollar.

“As of tomorrow, the money will hit my bank account,” he said. “The more people that are talking, the more you’re making my name hot so keep it up.”

Where do you stand on the strikes thrown by Jeremy Stephens in his fight-ending salvo?

This article first appeared on on 2/25/2018.