Jeremy Stephens built his game plan to ‘break Gilbert Melendez’ at UFC 215

Jeremy Stephens explains his strategy going into his fight with Gilbert Melendez

Jeremy Stephens has become a victim of his own greatest weapon.

Best known as a vicious knockout artist, Stephens has proclaimed on numerous occasions that he possesses the most power of anybody competing in the featherweight division and he’s dared opponents to stand and trade with him.

Unfortunately most of the fighters facing him have heeded those warnings and opted for a different strategy when facing him, which has left Stephens chasing fighters around the Octagon just searching for that one big knockout shot.

The result has been Stephens suffering a couple of tough losses in a row but he’s learned his lesson and implemented some important changes ahead of his return to action at UFC 215 against Gilbert Melendez.

“It’s all a learning lesson. It’s came and gone and I learned, especially in the fight with Frankie [Edgar]. I feel like I was just chasing too much,” Stephens explained. “It’s a blessing and a curse. I love being in a fight so much that sometimes I go outside my limits just to engage in a fight.

“Some guys are just pu–ies. Gilbert is not one of those guys. He brings it. I’m excited for a guy like that.”

Stephens has known for a while that most opponents aren’t going to stand in front of him and allow the UFC veteran to unload with one of his hellish strikes that has knocked out the likes of Rafael dos Anjos and Dennis Bermudez.

As much as Stephens respects Melendez as the kind of opponent who won’t back down from him, he knows that can all change after the former Strikeforce champion tastes his power in those opening exchanges.

That’s why Stephens has worked tirelessly alongside head coach Eric Del Fierro to come up with a game plan to not only win the fight but to walk away victorious on their terms.

“People fight me a lot different. If you look at Max Holloway, the way he fought me is not the way he fought Ricardo Lamas or Jose Aldo. People tend to fight me a lot different even if they just feel a one-two combination to the chest. They start thinking ‘I don’t want to get hit like that’. Things definitely switch up in the fight. We’re ready for that,” Stephens said.

“Eric Del Fierro and I have a great game plan and we’re going to break Gilbert Melendez. If he wants to run around trying to get me to chase, I’m going to be standing and pointing at the middle of the Octagon and telling him to come on and bring it.”

STEPHENS IS READY FOR MELENDEZ TO TURN INTO A WRESTLER 

As much as Stephens hopes to put on a ‘Fight of the Night’ type performance, he’s not so sure Melendez will actually be a willing participant because of the dangers he would face in standing toe-to-toe with him over three rounds.

Instead, Stephens is ready for Melendez to turn into a grappler but either way he’s expecting a bonus check at the end of the night because ‘Performance of the Night’ for a one-sided knockout pays just as well.

“More than likely if you get in an exchange with me you’re going to be snoozing on the canvas and I’m going to be smiling with my hands raised,” Stephens said.

“If he wants to do that, I’ll definitely oblige that. I’ll make it clean and I’ll put his ass to sleep. I’m thinking more this fight, he realizes I’m a bigger, faster, younger and stronger guy so he’s going to engage in the wrestling game a little bit more. But if he wants to stand there, I’ll be happy to engage him. I’m looking for an all out war. I’m ready to go and I’m looking forward to scrapping with Gilbert.”

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Damon Martin is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the industry since 2003 with bylines on FOX Sports, CNN, Bleacher Report and numerous other outlets.
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