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Jeremy Stephens vs Zabit Magomedsharipov

Jeremy Stephens VS Zabit Magomedsharipov

The biggest prospect in MMA meets Jeremy “Lil Heathen” Stephens in one of the most expected fights of the card. This is the first real step up in competition for the Dagestani fighter after passing all his previous tests with flying colours. In his last fight he pulled out one of the best submissions in UFC history, a Suloev stretch against Brandon Davis. Stephens enters this fight after getting knocked out due to a liver shot against Jose Aldo. Had he won that fight he probably would have earned a tittleshot.
This fight will answer a lot of things about Magomedsharipov. Under the expert eye of Mark Henry, where he gets top notch trainer partners like Frankie Edgar and Eddie Alvarez, the stories about what he is capable of doing in the gym are already floating around. He is one of the most naturally talented fighters in the roster, many predicting the sky’s the limit for him. Born in Dagestan, he is a high level grappler as one could expect. What catches the eye is the way he is built. Tall and lanky, he is a huge 145 pounder. His frame does not prevent him from being extremely dominant on the ground, where he is a high level submission threat as well as understanding and dominating all the basics of wrestling in his favour. His clinch abilities are also amazing, and he has already performed some of the best trip takedowns of the past year in the UFC. Good scrambler as well, it is delightful to watch him display his grappling when he decides to go for it, because he is primarily a striker with a background in Sanda and kickboxing, which may explain his preference for flashy techniques. On the feet Zabit is one of the most impressive MMA fighters you can see, able to throw even the most difficult kicking techniques. You do not even know what to expect. His hands are good, specially his left hook which he uses as a check or counter to great effect when the opponents shorten the distance on him. However, he usually has a relatively low output, and his lack of stopping power in his hands may be a concern going on. Enter Jeremy Stephens. The Iowa native is approaching thirty fights in the UFC. He has always been a tremendous knockout puncher who alternated wins and losses, until he recently appeared to apply some adjustments to his game, taking a more measured approach to his striking, and adding subtle things like a devastating low calf kick, which is quickly gaining popularity among fighters.
Let’s make things clear, Jeremy Stephens is not gonna outjab you to death like Renato Moicano, but you do not want to be exchanging with him either. Exchanging in the open with Stephens is close to signing a death sentence, he has a great chin and to be honest the only reason Aldo was able to stop him is because he hit one of the most savage liver shots you will ever see. Stephens pushes a high pace and simply marches forward looking to destroy. He is a decent wrestler, but he very seldom uses it offensively mixing in some takedowns. He uses it primarily to remain on the feet, where he can implement his style. Magomedsharipov, even though a great talent, still has some holes defensively that could cost him here, like retreating in straight lines. He also looked to be fading late against Kyle Bochniak when he put the pressure on him, and if you can stay close to him forcing a high pace he can be overwhelmed. He appears content with getting his lead leg kicked, which is not a good idea here. This may not be a good look if you have to face Lil Heathen, and he is lucky this fight is 3 rounds. How does this fight go down? We just cannot be sure. Maybe Zabit is just able to outpoint Stephens on the feet and run away with the fight, but I am sure Jeremy will want to pressure hard. What happens then? Is Zabit able to hurt Jeremy on the feet to keep him out of his face? Outside a huge left kick, my guess is no. I expect Zabit to be forced to shoot on Stephens eventually to slow the fight down or if he finds himself in trouble. If he is unable to do so, he may be in for a rude awakening. If he can drag Stephens down easily and/or repeatedly, a submission would not be a surprise. Oddsmakers have Zabit the big favourite at (-255), while Stephens sits at (+215) which is a little bit disrespectful. Zabit via submission is a play to be considered here at the right price, and a poke at Stephens or Stephens by knockout is justified. I do not like Magomedsharipov as parlay material at those odds in this spot. Stephens via 3rd round knockout is a play we will be making here when the line is available. Should have tremendous value, maybe close to (+2000). This fight will be the birth of a star or will show a hype train derailing. Do not blink.