Having finally returned to the win column last time out care of a split decision victory against Myles Price, former UFC slugger Jeremy Stephens was faced with a considerable step up in competition in the form of Natan Schulte on the PFL 2022 World Championship prelims.
Stephens, having fought a who’s who of UFC veterans and contenders during his lengthy stint with the company, was no stranger to stiff competition mind you. Schulte, meanwhile, looked to claim another impressive scalp, after winning both the 2018 and 2019 PFL seasons at lightweight.
While Stephens had predicted a banger ahead of Friday’s card in New York City, it was Schulte, after an early high kick attempt, taking the fight to the ground. Stephens, on his back, was dry and in a bad spot; Schulte worked to secure an arm-triangle choke, stepping across Stephens but remaining in half-guard.
While possible to finish from that spot, the choke was at risk of burning Schulte’s arms out, and “Lil Heathen” Stephens managed to free himself just ever so slightly — breathing room, just barely, but soon, Schulte had the back. Stephens covered up as Schulte landed punches to the side of the head; Schulte rolled Stephens back over, then transitioned to the back once again.
This time, Schulte got both hooks in, and got under the chin, wrenching the rear-naked choke tight. Stephens managed to survive, and this time escaped back to his feet, landing right hand after right hand as Schulte backed up. They clinched up, Stephens landed a knee, and the bell rang sounding an end to a one-sided opening five minutes — though the momentum appeared to be shifting.
That shift was stopped in its tracks in the early seconds of round two. Again, Schulte landed an early takedown, a clear signal that he did not want to risk standing and banging with the hard-hitting Stephens. Instead, he continued to control his opponent on the ground, again locked up an arm-triangle choke.
This time around, there was no mistake, with Stephens quickly tapping — giving Natan Schulte his second straight win over a UFC veteran, following a June win against Marcin Held.
Natan Schulte gets the job done in the 2nd round!
— PFL (@PFLMMA) November 26, 2022
Official Result: Natan Schulte def. Jeremy Stephens by submission (arm-triangle choke), Round 2, 1:32