The telephone rings and it's Joe "Daddy" Stevenson on the other end.
He's about two weeks away from the most important fight of his life, but little at this moment is more important than his beloved Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Steelers have suffered a gut-wrenching playoff loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars only seconds earlier and Stevenson has called to vent.
"This sucks, man," he says before hanging up. "It kind of feels like I lost."
Not exactly, though, because Stevenson says he's put more into Saturday's UFC lightweight championship fight against B.J. Penn than he has into anything he's done in his life.
Stevenson has been fighting professionally since he was 16 and has reeled off 28 victories in 35 fights, including four in a row.
But when he steps into the octagon on Saturday at Metro Radio Arena to meet Penn in the main event of UFC 80, he'll know that he has given more of himself in during his preparations in Big Bear, Calif., than he has for anything he's ever done.
He has been in camp for 2½ months – a lifetime for a guy who is as devoted to his wife, Maia, and his three children as Stevenson – and estimates he's spent $10,000 in making sure he's at his best when the fight with Penn begins.
"I'm not crazy," Stevenson says softly. "These are a couple of months I'll never get back. I'd much rather be spending this time with my family."
But if he walks to the cage in anything but superb physical condition, he'll have little chance against the multi-talented Penn, who is ranked No. 7 in the Yahoo! Sports Top 10. And so Stevenson, who is renowned for his good conditioning, has pushed himself harder than ever.
Penn says Stevenson is one of the best opponents he's faced in his illustrious career and said he knows Stevenson could go hard for 10 five-minute rounds if he had to do so.
"Joe isn't as well known maybe as some guys, but he is good in pretty much everything and you know he's going to be 100 percent ready," Penn said. "When you're fighting Joe Stevenson, you can't focus on anything but him because he's very dangerous."
And Stevenson knows that though he and Penn are friends, a win over Penn would take him to a new station in life.
He was a father by the time he was 18 and barely able to stay above the poverty line. He's had so many twists in his personal life that his life story would be rejected in Hollywood as unbelievable.
He's devoted much of his life to mixed martial arts and to his family and finally stands on the precipice of a breakthrough.
"I'm not really an old guy, but I feel like I've been around forever," Stevenson said. "I've seen a lot and done a lot, but here's the thing about that: It has all combined to make me who I am. It's why I have a shot to win this fight. There are people who say I can't beat B.J.? That's OK. I'm not going to get mad at someone's opinion.
"But you know what, if they knew what I've gone through to get to this point, the sacrifices I've had to make and the things I've had to get over, they wouldn't think that way. I don't worry about those things anyway. My Mom thinks I'll win. My wife thinks I'll win. That's what matters."
UFC president DanaWhite acts incredulous when asked if he thinks Stevenson can win. White has been around long enough to know there are no sure things in MMA fights.
And when considering a guy with Stevenson's record (28-7) and pedigree, it would be a foolish mistake, White knows, to sell him short.
"Joe Stevenson is one of the best fighters in the world, period, and he doesn't have to take a back seat to anybody," White said. "He's a dangerous, dangerous opponent. B.J. knows what he has in front of him."
So, too, does Stevenson. That's why a win would be so significant for him. But he also knows that the biggest jackpot lies about a day after the fight ends.
"I get to go home and be with the family," Stevenson said. "I've made some unbelievable sacrifices, but this is all going to be worth it. I'm going to pave their futures out. I'm going to give them a lot more of a chance than I ever had of making it."
- Joe Stevenson