UFC Vegas 24 is set to follow up on the promotions return after a short break spanning just a couple of weeks. In that time we have seen some changes at the top of this card, particularly in the main event.
First scheduled were middleweights #1 contender “The Reaper” Robert Whittaker vs the #2 contender Paulo Costa. The plan was to have the two headline ABC’s April 10th card but Costa turned down the offer, sticking with the original April 17th date. A month or so later the Brazilian was forced to withdraw from the bout as he was suffering from severe flu symptoms and was unable to prepare for the ex-middleweight champion.
The Reaper elected to stay active instead of agreeing to reschedule the match for either UFC card taking place on May 1 and May 8. This is where Kelvin Gastelum fits in. A bout that was meant to happen back in 2019 for the middleweight title, finally came to fruition the same way the fight was canceled, somewhat bizarrely.
The Ultimate Fighter winners were originally slated to duke it out for middleweight gold back in 2019. However, Whittaker was forced out of the match the morning of, because he had to undergo emergency surgery. Gastelum is looking to climb back up to the top of the mountain where he once was. Meanwhile, Whittaker will hope to make a convincing statement in order for the Auzzie to get the long-awaited rematch he has wanted.
Some other high-profile fights to watch out for on the UFC Vegas 24 card will include the return of Jessica Penne after a 4-year absents as she takes on UFC newcomer Lupita Godinez. The main card will feature Abdul Razak Alhassan looking to bounce back after his most recent loss, welcoming the Australian-born Jacoub Malkoun trying to get his first win under the UFC banner. After that will be UFC legend Andre “The Pitbull” Arlovski making a quick return since getting finished by an up-and-coming Tom Aspinall just two months ago at UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs Lewis.
How we got here: Drakkar Klose vs Jeremy Stephens
Drakkar Klose 11-2-1
The Michigan-native began his professional MMA career back in 2014 and racked up an undefeated record of 7-0-1. In January of 2017, Klose made his promotional debut at UFC Fight Night 103, defeating Devin Powell via unanimous decision. Later that year Klose would face a very highly-rated English prospect in Marc Diakiese. Using his forward pressure, wrestling, and calf kicks, Drakkar Klose would go on to win via split decision.
At the tail end of a fantastic inaugural year for the Ex-North Idaho collegiate wrestler, came his first professional loss vs seasoned technical Swedish striker, David Teymur. Klose used this experience as a learning curve, going on to win 3 straight fights vs Lando Vannata, Bobby Green, and Christos Giagos all by unanimous decision.
This brings us to his most recent fight against Beneil Dariush that ended in a vicious KO loss last March at UFC 248. That makes this fight at UFC Vegas 24 against Jeremy Stephens 413 days apart from the last time he stepped into the octagon.
Jeremy Stephens 28-18 (1)
It is pretty clear that the 34-year old Jeremy “Lil Heathen” Stephens is currently riding on the tail end of his long successful career as a top featherweight in the UFC. Stephens hasn’t won a fight in 3-years since knocking out Josh Emmet back in February of 2018, and is hoping a jump up to Lightweight will be the solution to solving some of his recent problems.
Lil Heathen made his UFC debut 14 years ago when Quinton “Rampage” Jackson TKO’d Chuck Liddell in the first round at UFC 71 in the spring of 2007. Ever since then, Stephens has taken on contender after contender for almost the entirety of his UFC career.
Here’s a look at Jeremy Stephens time in the UFC ahead of UFC Vegas 24, building a record of 16-16 in the sports top promotion.
As with many aging UFC veterans, Stephens looks to be fighting for his job after going 0-4 (1) in his last 5, most recently getting finished by Calvin Kattar last May at UFC 249. Stephens began his UFC career at Lightweight going 7-7 until he decided to cut down to featherweight after going on a 3-fight skid back in 2012. The Iowa-native is keen on turning his mishaps into good fortune on Saturday night.
Stephens vs Klose Preview and Prediction
The co-main event of UFC Vegas 24 will be taking place in the lightweight division as Jeremy Stephens welcomes Drakkar Klose back inside the octagon. With both guys competing in a shark-infested division that is 155, they would equally like to begin 2021 in winning fashion.
Klose will be returning after a devastating KO loss and the longest layoff of his MMA career. Drakkar Klose likes to keep the fight in the pocket where he can land damaging shots, often stunning his opponents. Jeremy Stephens on the other hand will be hoping a change in division will yet again inspire his old self.
In Stephens’s last fight, he was finding early success pressuring Calvin Kattar, using his feints mixed with the kicks and throwing his hands at will. That’s exactly what he will need to do in order to not get cornered. Circling away from Klose’s power hand will also be key, not letting Klose set his feet properly to throw what he wants.
Stephens vs Klose Prediction: Klose via TKO
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