The last two months for UFC lightweight Jeremy Stephens have been anything but easy.
Just hours away from his UFC on FX 5 fight against Yves Edwards, as he was resting in his hotel room, a knock at the door ended up being Minneapolis police officers there to arrest Stephens on an outstanding warrant from the state of Iowa.
The pending case landed Stephens in jail, and despite the best efforts of UFC president Dana White to secure his release, it was all for naught and the fight had to be cancelled.
Legally, Stephens is still fighting to prove his innocence in the case, and thus he can't speak about any particulars surrounding the charges. Emotionally, however, the entire experience was draining because he went to Minnesota to work, fight and earn a paycheck, and instead he ended up spending several days in jail and went home without earning a dime.
“It's not just something that they took away from me, they took away from my family. I don't make millions of dollars, but I am able to provide for my family. I'm not an idiot with my money, but I definitely had to tighten up, and I didn't know when I was going to fight again and it was mentally draining,” Stephens told MMAWeekly Radio about the experience.
“It just sucked that something was taken away from me and the way that it was handled was just bizarre, and I think they way they went about things was just cruel. I get a chance to prove my innocence and go forth.”
Stephens maintains his stance of innocence and he'll have his day in court, but for now he gets to turn his focus back on his job.
In a strange twist of fate, Stephens will face Yves Edwards, the same man who ended up not fighting back in October due to the arrest, after his original opponent John Cholish was forced out of the fight with an injury.
It all kind of felt like fate to Stephens, who never stopped training or preparing for a fight, hoping he would get the call to step in on short notice. He just never imagined it would be against the same person he was supposed to fight back then.
“It just goes to show you can't keep a good man down, it was destined to be. I worked my butt off for this fight, and for the things that happened that way, I guess it just wasn't meant to be that day, and getting those legal things cleared up, trying to clear my name and prove my innocence. I just tried to keep good faith and stayed in the gym, because I knew regardless of what was going to happen, I was still going to get a short notice fight. I'm always a team player,” said Stephens.
The road traveled to Seattle to face Edwards, however, was paved with a lot of obstacles. Obviously the arrest and pending case are still looming overhead, which comes attached with a substantial legal fee for attorneys, and the holidays are just around the corner.
Stephens has every intention of not only proving himself in court, but providing for his family on Saturday night. He says it's just unfortunate that Yves Edwards has to be standing in his way.
“It made me realize that my back's against the wall. I'm fighting for my family. I'm trying to feed my family and make sure they have a good Christmas this year. Nothing's going to stop me from doing so,” Stephens stated.
“I'm not just going in there to try to win against Yves Edwards. He's a good guy. I consider him a good person for the sport, but I don't need anymore friends. I need a win, and I'm trying to dominate.”