After a whirlwind of an evening last Saturday which saw Conor McGregor sustain a broken leg at the hands of Dustin Poirier during the UFC 264 main event, the promotion is back in action at the UFC Apex for UFC Vegas 31 on ESPN and ESPN+ (inside the United States, check your local listings elsewhere.)
As with all non-PPV events in the last year-plus, UFC Vegas 31 will originate from the UFC Apex facility in Sin City, featuring a battle between unranked combatants at 155 lbs.
During Saturday’s main card on ESPN+, it’ll be Jeremy Stephens (28-18, 1NC) versus Mateusz Gamrot (18-1, 1NC) in a three-round fight at five minutes apiece for the last fight prior to the co-main event of UFC Vegas 31 from the Apex.
UFC Vegas 31 Fighter Comparison
Going into this bout at UFC Vegas 31 on Saturday evening, Mateusz Gamrot is the taller man, standing 5-foot-10, compared to Jeremy Stephens’ 5-foot-9 frame.
In addition, Stephens holds a half-inch reach advantage (71 inches even to 70 1/2 inches) over Gamrot, with Gamrot holding a half-inch leg reach advantage (39 inches even to 38 1/2 inches) over Stephens coming into Saturday’s contest.
“Lil Heathen” In A Slump Ahead of UFC Vegas 31
Jeremy Stephens enters this bout during Saturday’s UFC Vegas 31 on a three-year slump, during which time he’s gone 0-4 with one no-contest, losing most recently to Calvin Kattar (second-round knockout due to ground and pound shots) in UFC 249 on May 9, 2020, in Jacksonville, the first UFC event back after the promotion’s COVID-19-induced hiatus last spring.
It’s been close to three and a half years since Jeremy Stephens last emerged victorious from a UFC fight, going back to Feb. 24, 2018, in Orlando on FOX Sports.
“…And now we know who the hardest-hitting 145er is, baby! Hey, no disrespect, man! Josh Emmett put me down on my butt. I had to get my wits back underneath me. You cannot break me! I am unbreakable, baby! That’s what’s up, that’s heart, that’s how you come back! I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in my career, and that’s testament. Never give up!”
Over the next three-plus years, it’s been a very different Jeremy Stephens inside the cage and out, however
The Shove Seen ‘Round The World
Jeremy Stephens had been slated to fight Drakkar Klose on April 17 during UFC Vegas 24 inside the Apex but the fight was postponed due to the effects of a physical altercation involving the two men on the previous day’s weigh-ins.
That Friday, both men successfully made weight for the next afternoon’s fight, but Jeremy Stephens shoved his opponent with both hands, giving Klose a concussion and neck issues, resulting in that fight being withdrawn from the card.
Recently, Jeremy Stephens talked to USA Today’s MMA Junkie about the matter, saying: “It was just an experience. I got paid a little bit of money just to go weigh in. I showed up, and he didn’t, you know? I never thought a push would go this far. I didn’t think he was going to act like that, respond like that and come at the UFC like that and make it a whole spectacle. From what I’ve heard, I feel like Dana (White) had my back, the company had my back.”
In the same interview, Stephens continued with: “I missed out on an opportunity to go in there, perform. At all levels, I can look at it transparently. I’m very totally cool with exactly what I did. I’m a fighter. I’m primal in those moments.”
“Gamer” Looks To Ride Momentum of Recent Win To UFC Vegas 31 Victory
In the other corner, Mateusz Gamrot enters UFC Vegas 31 having posted a 4-1 record in his last five MMA appearances, besting Scott Holtzman during UFC on ABC 2 on April 10 (second-round knockout due to ground and pound shots).
That victory was a rebound for Gamrot, who dropped a split decision at the hands of Guram Kuateladze last October on Fight Island in the former’s UFC promotional debut.
Gamrot’s loss in October added fuel to the fire for his ultimate goal of a UFC championship, as he mentioned in an interview:
“I don’t think that I have to change a lot in my training because I don’t think I lost my last fight. But losing on points only gave me more motivation!! Now I have even more fire and determination to dominate in The Octagon!”
Analysis, Film Study and Prediction
Stylistically, this bout during UFC Vegas 31 on Saturday night looks to be a toss-up with Jeremy Stephens being a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Mateusz Gamrot being a wrestler, so this could very well be a ground war this weekend.
Stephens Must Avoid Elbow Shots
For Jeremy Stephens, his key to victory this coming weekend is going to be defending elbow shots, and one needs to look no further than his most recent fight to see why this is a concern for the Stephens camp.
Last year in Jacksonville, “Lil Heathen” absorbed a number of elbow shots against Calvin Kattar in the second round of a scheduled three, elbows which dropped him, giving Kattar the opening to land a vicious ground and pound combo to Stephens’ head, spelling the end of the night. If Stephens is able to duck out of elbows here during UFC Vegas 31 on Saturday night, this could bode well for him.
Gamrot Is A Formidable Opponent This Weekend
Looking at tape from Mateusz Gamrot earlier in his MMA career, we could be seeing Jeremy Stephens face his toughest career opposition at UFC Vegas 31.
Seven years ago, he appeared in Cage Warriors 72 on only a few weeks’ notice versus Tim Newman and was able to score a single-leg takedown, setting up a nasty-looking heel hook submission one minute and 37 seconds into the three-round fight’s opening period.
If Gamrot is able to secure as little as one takedown on Jeremy Stephens on Saturday night, it could be all he needs to make UFC Vegas 31 a quick night at the office.
As could be the case with the main event on Saturday night, this fight at UFC Vegas 31 has all the trimmings of a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it bout, so make that fridge run early. Don’t think about it twice, either. This one could offer up competitive violence of the highest order on Saturday night.
Prediction: Mateusz Gamrot by First-Round TKO.