November 24, 2012
Yves Edwards finally gets to fight Jeremy Stephens
By NEIL SPRINGER, Special to QMI Agency
It was roughly seven weeks ago Yves (Thugjitsu Master) Edwards was warming up backstage for his bout with Jeremy (Lil' Heathen) Stephens.
The two were set to meet on the undercard of UFC on FX 5 in Minneapolis on Oct. 5, but the fight was put in jeopardy that morning when Stephens was arrested due to an outstanding warrant stemming from an alleged assault in Iowa.
Edwards' wife and teammates did their best to shelter him from the news and help keep him focused on the task at hand, while UFC president Dana White attempted to get Stephens released from jail. UFC officials told Edwards his bout was getting pushed back, but that it was still on.
It was only when the co-main event between Jake Ellenberger and Jay Hieron began that the MMA veteran was informed he would not be fighting.
"When that fight started Dana came in and said, 'It's not going to happen. They're screwing me around and I can't get him here,'" Edwards said over the phone.
"I was ready to go at that point. I was just sitting around, waiting to see what was going to happen. I was still thinking I was fighting. I was ready to go. I was warm and ready, but then Dana came in and shut everything down."
Edwards was awarded his show purse, but knew he potentially missed out on a big pay day. Not only was he confident he would beat Stephens, and thus earn his win purse, he felt the two were a lock for at least one of the $40,000 fight night bonuses.
"For us to be fight of the night, we had to be more entertaining than Diego Nunes and Bart Palaszewski," Edwards said. "That was a good fight, but that was pretty one-sided. I think the fight with me and Jeremy would have been more competitive and it quite possibly would have gone to the third round. It would have been really entertaining and very competitive. At the very least we would have been in there for fight of the night bonuses and I was definitely looking to finish. If I was able to get a finish, that's another bonus on top of that.
"So that kind of hurt, but it was out of everybody's hands. Everybody who wanted it to happen tried to make it happen, but it just didn't."
Stephens was eventually extradited to Des Moines, spending a total of 12 days in jail before being released. He is currently awaiting a trail date and has maintained his innocence.
In the meantime, Edwards was booked to face John Cholish at UFC on FOX 5 in Seattle Dec. 8. The card is set to be headlined by a lightweight-title fight between Benson Henderson and Nate Diaz.
With Cholish in his sights, Edwards was excited to get back on track and put an end to a one-year hiatus -- the longest of his 15-year career. But with only two weeks left before the fight, the Renzo Gracie Jiu Jitsu fighter bowed out due to a groin injury.
As fate would have it, Stephens agreed to step in on short notice.
"About 5:30 p.m. (Friday), I was waking up from an afternoon nap to go to practice," Edwards began. "I headed to practice and my manager hit me up that Cholish was injured and he was out of the fight with a torn groin. So I went to practice and I had no idea what was going to happen. Then immediately after practice, around 8:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., he hit me back and said, 'It looked like Jeremy Stephens has been added to the fight. So you're going to get your rematch to a fight that didn't happen.'
"I was hoping he got his situation dealt with in Iowa, just for his sake. He's a good dude. I like the dude.
"It's one of those things where your mouth starts watering. For me, I like the challenge. I want the challenge. When that fight was put on the table, I was like,' That's awesome.' At first, I didn't think it was a possibility just because of the legal situation. I thought he might still be stuck in Iowa."
With the fight rescheduled, Edwards said he and Stephens have the opportunity to steal the show. Though he admitted the competition is stiffer this time around.
"This is a fight that any fight fan is going to be excited about," Edwards said. "The last fight card we were on, there was some good fights, but it was one of the fights people were looking forward to. Now you have a card with B.J. Penn vs. Rory MacDonald, Ben Henderson vs. Nate Diaz and a bunch of other tough fights that people are excited about.
"We still have the opportunity to have fight of the night and another performance bonus. It's one of those things where we're going to have to step it up a bit because of the other fights on this card, but at the same time, both our styles have the potential to be more entertaining than anyone on this card on any given night."
UFC ON FOX 5
Benson Henderson vs. Nate Diaz
Alexander Gustafsson vs. Mauricio Rua
Rory MacDonald vs. B.J. Penn
Matt Brown vs. Mike Swick
Lavar Johnson vs. Brendan Schaub
Michael Chiesa vs. Marcus LeVesseur
Nam Phan vs. Dennis Siver
Raphael Assuncao vs. Mike Easton
Ramsey Nijem vs. Joe Proctor
Yves Edwards vs. Jeremy Stephens
Daron Cruickshank vs. Henry Martinez
John Albert vs. Scott Jorgensen
Tim Means vs. Abel Trujillo