Jeremy Stephens knows when it’s time to celebrate.
Stephens (Twitter: @LiLHeathenMMA) is approaching a bout against Anthony Pettis at UFC 136 on Saturday at the Toyota Center in Houston. The event comes equipped with a two-day fan expo that involves MMA fighters, personalities and merchandisers socializing with UFC fanatics.
The fan expo promises a lengthy list of fighter attendees, both past and present, but Stephens prefers to avoid the spectacle.
“I’m more of a guy that likes to stay indoors and go do my training and maybe go outside to do a little meditation and relax,” Stephens admitted to MMADieHards.com. “I don’t like to be around a lot of people at that time. I’m focused on cutting weight and doing my thing. I stay in the hotel room and grind it out. That way, when I come out, I come out like a caged beast that’s been trapped all week.”
Assisting Stephens in becoming a beast in the cage are a plethora of experienced mixed martial artists. From training with the sport’s veterans to the rising stars, the Iowa native covered all bases when preparing for “Showtime.”
Victory MMA in San Diego is home base for Stephens’ preparations, but “Lil Heathen” acquired the assistance of a UFC champ and somebody to mimic Pettis.
“I trained over at Alliance MMA with Dominick Cruz and some of his guys,” Stephens said. “I brought in this kid Jerome-Max Holloway from Hawaii who throws all the Anthony Pettis kicks; he throws all those crazy kicks and more. I flew him in for seven weeks.
“I also had my regular guys like Dean Lister for my jiu-jitsu, Myles Jury is in the camp now, his knee is 100 percent and healed up. Several more guys, too, that were just going strong and working hard. It was a really good camp. We put in a lot of hard work and had a lot of fun. I’ve grown and learned a lot in this camp, so I’m super excited. It’s been a really great camp.”
Stephens is matched up against a competitor who is a former UFC lightweight No. 1 contender and the WEC lightweight champion emeritus. Therefore, if Stephens can defeat Pettis, it cannot go unnoticed by the UFC.
A victory over Pettis will undeniably raise him in the lightweight rankings. However, Stephens’ focus is elsewhere.
“Even after I get through Anthony Pettis I still have a long way to go,” Stephens explained. “As far as rankings, I’m really not concerned. I just have to worry about getting past (Pettis) and beating his ass down on October 8.”
Stephens intends on going to UFC 136 to fight and come home with victory, not partake in the week’s festivities. But once the “beast” is out of him, “Lil Heathen” will let loose.
“After I win, I like to celebrate,” Stephens explained. “I’m going to go in and take Anthony Pettis out, and then go have some fun. I’ll enjoy some time with my family and friends.”
That’s how you party like a heathen.