This weekend the Octagon will find itself in the Amway Center in Orland Florida for UFC Fight Night Stephens vs Emmett. This fight card will take place on Saturday February 24th. In the main event two hard hitting featherweights will be going toe to toe as Josh Emmett takes on UFC veteran Jeremy “lil Heathen” Stephens. This card also features a very important strawweight bout between Tecia Torres and former title contender Jessica Andrade. Also featured on the main card is a light heavyweight fight between Ovince Saint Preux and Ilir Latifi. Orlando native and hard-hitting welterweight Mike Perry will be taking on Max Griffin to kick off the main card.
Main event preview/prediction: If you like two guys who are willing to stand up and throw heavy leather, look no further than this main event! Jeremy Stephens is one of the biggest knockout artists in the UFC’s featherweight division. He is coming off an impressive TKO win over The Korean Super Boy Doo ho Choi. The man who Stephens will be fighting is Team Alpha Male fighter Josh Emmett. If you are not a hardcore UFC fan the name Josh Emmett probably doesn’t ring a bell; maybe that’s because Josh Emmett has just recently broke into the top 5 of the UFC featherweight rankings after his stunning KO win over UFC veteran and former title challenger Ricardo Lamas. Emmett fought Lamas at UFC Fight Night Winnipeg, where Emmett took the fight on short notice. Emmett was a huge underdog, but midway through the first round Emmett hit Lamas with a hook directly on the chin that knocked Lamas out cold.
This fight between Stephens and Emmett could easily determine who will be given the next title shot in the featherweight division. The biggest question coming into this fight is, was Emmett’s KO win over Lamas just a lucky perfectly timed punch or is Josh Emmett the next big knockout artist in the UFC’s featherweight division? If Emmett can KO Stephens there will be zero question about Emmett’s ability in the octagon. The only man to knockout Jeremy Stephens was Yves Edwards and that occurred back in 2012. Jeremy Stephens is one of the most durable featherweights in UFC history, he’s been in the UFC since 2007. If Stephens gets a win over Emmett he could be knocking at the door for his first title shot in the UFC. It’s really hard to predict this fight because these are two heavy-handed brawlers. This fight can go either way but I’m leaning toward Josh Emmett to get the upset win via decision. The reason I pick Emmett is because I feel Emmett is a better wrestler than Stephens. If at some point of the fight, Emmett is getting hit with clean shots while standing, he has the option to take the fight to the ground. This will be a very closely contested fight and definitely one you won’t want to miss.
Co-main event Prediction: Two strawweights at the top of their game will be going at it in the co-main event. Tecia Torres is coming off a win against Michelle Waterson via decision at UFC 218. Her opponent will be former title contender Jessica Andrade. Andrade decimated Claudia Gadelah in her last fight at UFC Fight Night Japan. With the champ Rose Namajunas slated to fight the former champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 223, this fight between Andrade and Torres will most likely determine who will be the next challenger for the strawweight belt after UFC 223. My prediction for this fight is Andrade winning via decision. The reason I picked Andrade is because both of these fighters are pressure fighters. Torres likes to push her opponents up against the cage and swarm them, Andrade is a fighter who won’t back down and who will stand in the pocket and fire right back. I believe the power of Andrade will give Torres a problem and make her hesitate throughout the fight. Torres has a karate background and likes to throw kicks at the end of her combinations, kicks leave you susceptible to take downs. Even though Torres ground game isn’t bad, I don’t think her ground game is on the same level as Andrade. I think this fight will be a lot like Andrade’s last fight against Claudia Gadelah. I see Andrade dominating all 3 rounds and becoming the next contender in the strawweight division.
Ovince Saint Preux vs Ilir Latifi: Ovince Saint Preux is finally fighting to his full potential. He had a spectacular 1st round submission win against Yushin Okami at UFC Fight Night Japan, Followed by a brutal head kick KO win over Corey Anderson at UFC 217. Preux is on a three fight win streak and I see him making it a four fight win streak come Saturday night. Latifi does have superior grappling, but Preux easily has the advantage striking. My prediction is Ovince Saint Preux wins by 2nd round TKO.
Mike Perry vs Max Griffin: Fan favorite and Orlando native Mike Perry was on his way to the top of the welterweight division at the end of 2017, until he fought Santiago Ponzinibbio at Fight Night Winnipeg and lost via decision. Ponzinibbio out classed Mike Perry in the fight. The big thing about Perry is after every loss he faces in the UFC he comes back stronger. After losing to Alan Jouban back in December of 2016, he came back in April of 2016 and put Jake Ellenberger to sleep with a brutal elbow. I think Perry will step into the Octagon with a vengeance Saturday and wins this one via 1st round KO.
-Stephen Caloggero (@steveo_calo)