Arlington, TX — The much-anticipated PFL debut of Jeremy Stephens arrived Wednesday, and lived up to expectations and then some.
The only downside of the three-round war for “Lil Heathen” was that when the dust had settled, Stephens was on the wrong side of a unanimous decision against Clay Collard.
“Credit to Clay, man. He’s probably the only guy that will fight me like that. So straight up, props to him,” Stephens told media outlets including Cageside Press following the fight. “I’ve been through a lot the past two years, my career has been on the line, switching over to the PFL. So coming in here, getting a game opponent like that, I feel like he’s the best guy to go in there and do that with [after] a year off. It really kind of lets me know where I’m at; there’s a few things I need to work on, basically cardio and volume, and I win that fight.”
Stephens is happy knowing that he’ll fight against in a little over six weeks, something the league’s season format ensures. “I’m healthy, got a little black eye, so I can build on that, I can definitely work my cardio, work my volume, and I know what I need to do going forward. And I feel like I can knock all these dudes out on the roster, besides Clay, because that motherf*cker took a shot.”
Though, Stephens would later add, “I did turn a boxer into a wrestler, I do want to point that out.”
Fighting in a new home after spending over a decade with the UFC “felt great,” Stephens later told Cageside Press. “This was amazing. I had a lot of good crowd support here, a lot of good teams, the media really behind me, the people in the PFL. It’s been tremendous. Everybody has smiles on their face, they make my job super easy. Everything’s chill here, I love it. I feel like I really good home here, and you’re going to see me do big things. I’m gonna come out on top, I’m gonna flip the script like James Brown, baby.”
Watch the full PFL 1 2022 post-fight scrum with Jeremy Stephens above. More coverage from the event can be found below.