Jeremy "The Little Heathen" Stephens
Jeremy “Lil’ Heathen” Stephens
Born: May 26, 1986- Des Moines, Iowa
Current City: San Deigo, CA
5’9 155 lbs
When it comes to the sport of mixed martial arts, seldom will you find a competitor that fights with more raw passion, energy, and pure heart than Jeremy “Lil Heathen” Stephens. Born in Des Moines, Iowa, the 24 year old product of a broken home has displayed time and time again that a true champion will go to any lengths to chase their dreams. He will never give up, lay down or back out. When you step in the cage with Jeremy Stephens you are in for the fight of your life because to him, this is his life. Before Stephens ever threw a punch the competitive fire was burning deep inside of him. As a child he participated in baseball, basketball, and wrestling.
But, when his parents split at eight years of age, he found himself bouncing around from school to school. Fitting in and keeping close friends became almost like another sport- a sport where he found himself constantly losing. Times became so tough that he did not even have normalcy of a stable home. Not only was he bouncing to and from schools, he was doing the same in apartments, shelters, and even his mother’s car. Eventually, Stephens found stability when his father was granted custody of him at the end of fifth grade. He was finally able to focus on his education and sports. He could finally be a regular kid. During his high school years, Stephens was a baseball and wrestling standout.
It was at this time when his Grandfather, the one who really pushed him to wrestling, introduced him to the UFC. Stephens recalls fond memories of the two watching UFC together, picking their favorite fighters and daydreaming of being able to someday compete at that level. Back then it was only a dream. Fortunately for Stephens, competition was waiting just miles away. A local fight club that took place every Tuesday night was churning out talented tough guys like a bakery turns out bread rolls. Local stand out and future UFC stable mate, Josh “The Dentist” Neer was the reigning uncrowned champion of Tuesday nights. A fierce competitor who would literally take on all opponents, regardless of their weight or skill level, he was someone that Stephens looked up to and the fighter who, in time, became a great friend and mentor. During these years, Neer, John “Hurricane” Halverson (UFC), and Victor “Superman” Moreno (IFL) were all trying to make names for themselves.
At just sixteen years old, Stephens was ready to do the same. And one random Tuesday night Stephens showed up ready to show everyone what he had. Halverson recalls, “Jeremy’s uncle, Geno was always around the fights. He brought Jeremy up one night and said he’d been wanting to get in and see what he could do. I remember wrapping his hands and cornering for him. He seemed really nervous at first, but when he got in the ring he became very relaxed. It was weird because it was almost like he felt at home in there. He went right after his opponent and banged him out quick! I knew right then this kid was something special.” Stephens father, however, was not a fan of the fights back then- especially when his son came home with black eyes, cuts, bumps, and bruised. Often, Stephens found himself lying to his father about where the injuries were coming from. In the months that followed, it became normal. After dominating the amateur circuit, Stephens made his professional debut and started racking up wins and collecting championship belts. In 2006 Stephens became both the MCC Lightweight Champion and the UGC Lightweight Champion. People across the nation were beginning to take notice of “Lil Heathen.” In time, Joe Silva, matchmaker for the UFC, heard enough of the buzz and decided to give Jeremy Stephens a shot at the big show.
It just so happened that his debut fight was to take place on the eve of his 21st birthday. His opponent, however, was no gift. The UFC welcomed Jeremy with Din “Dinyero” Thomas, a veteran of the sport and former number one contender to the lightweight crown. Most counted Stephens out before he even made his way to Las Vegas. It was nothing Stephens was not used to. He had been the underdog most of his life, in and out of the cage. But, Stephens had never been a pushover, and his UFC debut would be no different. He showed up to impress. Although he lost the fight, he won the hearts of the fans and the respect of the UFC brass. He opened eyes, and finally, people knew Jeremy “Lil Heathen” Stephens was for real. Before his second appearance in the Octagon, Stephens returned back to Iowa to defend his MCC Lightweight belt. He dominated his opponent in spectacular fashion- the same fashion that caught the attention of the UFC. When Stephens returned to the UFC he had something to prove. He has logged wins over TUF standout, Cole “Magrino” Miller, Brazillian’s Rafael Dos Anjos, Diego Saraiva, hard charging Alaskan Justin Bucholz, and quite possibly one of the greatest strikers in the UFC Lightweight division, Sam “Hands of Stone” Stout.
For now, Stephens call San Diego, California home. Training with Throwdown Training Center is just what “Lil Heathen” needs to keep him sharp and focused. With MMA legends and elite coaches, elevating his game to the next level is inevitable. Each and every time Jeremy Stephens steps in the Octagon, fight fans will see a new and improved fighter. The sky is the limit for this young mixed martial artist. The fame, money and popularity will always come second to the feeling of success. He began with nothing. Now he’s molding his destiny. He’s a fighter, a father, and the future of mixed martial arts. He’s made it. However, the way Stephens see it, he will never forget the feeling of being broke and alone because that feeling makes you hungry. It brings out the most real beast in you. People gravitate to those who are successful, so Stephens is careful who he lets in his circle of trust. For now, San Diego, California is home. With his family by his side, the spirit of God in his heart and his training partners behind him, Jeremy Stephens is a happy man. Jeremy “Lil Heathen” Stephens has finally found his peace- unless you are standing across the Octagon from him. That’s another story!