Jeremy Stephens snapped a three fight losing streak in the opening bout of the UFC 160 preliminary card as he defeated Estevan Payan in his UFC featherweight debut with a dominating decision victory.
The fight opened with Payan being the aggressor and landed several leg kicks. Stephens began to come after Payan and ended up landing a kick to the groin. The action was stopped for a minute before the fight continued.
As the fight restarted, Stephens continued to press the action and went for a takedown which was stopped. Payan landed a right hand that rocked Stephens but did not attack. The action would end up heading to the mat as Payan went for a guillotine choke but Stephens would escape the submission attempt and would get in top position.
Payan landed an up kick and then transition to a triangle choke but once again Stephens would escape. In the final minute of the round, the two fighters engaged in a kick boxing bout with Stephens landing the better strikes.
As the second round opened, Stephens landed a right hand that had Payan on his heels. After exchanging strikes for 45 seconds, Stephens went for a takedown which was successful. Payan was able to get back to his feet against the fence but Stephens was able to get the fight back to the ground again. After several strikes on the ground, Stephens transition to Payan’s back and looked for a rear-naked choke. He would not be able to get the submission before the end of the round and the fight moves to the third round.
After the second round was over. Payan’s corner pleaded with him to throw his hands in the third round and that is what he did at the beginning of the round. After about 90 seconds of exchanging strikes, Stephens went for a takedown which was successful. He gained the back of his opponent and landed several knees to the body. Payan made it back to his feet but Stephens continued to hold onto his legs. He would get the fight down to the ground with 45 seconds left in the fight and the fight ended in this position.
All three judges scored the fight for Stephens with the scores being 30-26, 30-27, and 30-27. Stephens (21-9) has now won eight fights in the UFC and this is his first win since 2011 when he defeated Danny Downes at The Ultimate Fighter 13 Finale.