EXCLUSIVE | Coach: ‘It just comes down to mindset’ for Jeremy Stephens against Zabit Magomedsharipov at UFC 235

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UFC 235 takes place on Saturday night live from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. And to call the card stacked would be an understatement.

The event features several big-time match-ups and fighters ranging from current champions to former ones, whether it be inside or outside of the UFC. There will be big debuts as well as prospects looking to take a leap up the rankings ladder. One of which happens to be Russia’s Zabit Magomedsharipov.

For Magomedsharipov, he’ll be tasked with his toughest test to date in the last prelim bout before the main card where he’ll be taking on the UFC veteran and No. 6 ranked featherweight, Jeremy Stephens.

In Stephens’ corner as always will be his head coach at Alliance MMA, Eric Del Fierro who shared his thoughts on the fight before it goes down.

“Honestly, at this level, if you look at who Jeremy’s fought, he’s fought the who’s who,” Del Fierro told BJPenn.com. “When Jeremy shows up, he shows up and that’s what we’re expecting from Jeremy. Zabit, yeah, he’s talented. He’s he’s that new generation of fighter. There’s just not a lot of holes in their game but Jeremy’s still a force to be reckoned with in that whole division. And when Jeremy’s on, he’s unstoppable. And honestly, at this point, it just comes down to mindset.

“We can’t always worry about how good the opponent is or how good the hype train is behind him. The kid’s good, the kid’s talented, but so is every other fighter that Jeremy’s fought. And at this point, you’re in the cage, you’re going to go in and take our business. So if we focus on the task at hand and whatever’s going to happen is going to happen.”

For the ‘Lil Heathen’ Jeremy Stephens, this will be his first fight since having his great three-fight winning streak snapped by former champion Jose Aldo in July 2018.

Speaking at the beginning of fight week, Stephens revealed the mental struggles he had following the fight but he is now feeling refreshed and like a new man.

Well, not completely new. He’s still going to be that bringer of violence we’ve come to know and love.

“Well, you know, I’d be lying if I say Jeremy by submission,” Del Fierro said with a laugh in regards to a prediction. “Jeremy has submissions, but he has a thirst for knockouts. Whatever opens up, he knows what he needs to do. It doesn’t matter what I predict, it’s whatever he decides to throw in there. That’s why he’s always been one of the main card guys because he brings heat. He’s always been a fan favorite because of that. That doesn’t change with Jeremy.”

With all of the hype surrounding Magomedsharipov, who has yet to face a ranked opponent, it begs the question as to whether or not Stephens is too much too soon. But Del Fierro doesn’t believe so, and that’s why fights are made… To find out.

“I don’t think so,” Del Fierro said. “The thing is, the division itself, the top 5… Top 7 guys, they’ve kind of already fought each other. They gotta start movin’ up, you know? Gotta start getting Zabit in there and see what happens.”

Jeremy Stephens vs Zabit Magomedsharipov will throw down on the UFC 235 televised prelims which will air on ESPN at 8:00 PM EST / 5:00 PM PST.

Stay tuned to BJPenn.com for the rest of the chat with coach Del Fierro in the coming days.

This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 2/28/2019