This weekend sees #4 ranked featherweight Josh Emmett face #7 ranked Jeremy Stephens in Orlando, Florida, for UFC on FOX 28. With both men having more experience than many heading into Saturday night’s bout, we are sure to be in for a treat.
This week we spoke to Josh Emmett as he prepares for his first UFC main event slot which is another stepping stone on his journey to becoming the UFC featherweight champion.
A quick rise
Just over two months ago at UFC on FOX 26 we saw Emmett provide one of the upsets of the year by knocking out legend Ricardo Lamas in the very first round of a fight taken on just a couple of weeks notice. That night in Winnipeg was the first time many fight fans had heard of the California resident. However, it was just another day at the office for Emmett who already had 13 pro fights and over a decade of experience under his belt. A staple in one of the most elite MMA gyms on the scene, Emmett is no stranger to training at the highest level.
“A lot of people don’t know that I’ve been training with Team Alpha Male for over ten years now, I was there when Urijah first opened the gym. There are a lot of us at 145 here – Andre Fili, Rick Glenn, Darren Elkins, and also Chad Mendes who is making his return in the summer, he has been a long-term training partner of mine.”
Regardless of Emmett’s proven track record and notable training partners, this rise to the top did not avoid scrutiny from a portion of the MMA community. Speaking of this criticism, Emmett knows what he needs to do to shut it down. Agreeing to an opponent like Jeremy Stephens is an example of Emmett’s self-belief in his ability as the #4 ranked featherweight in the world, this win will verify his position in the rankings.
“I definitely think that this will solidify it [my ranking]. Stephens has had over 40 pro fights, and 28 fights in the UFC. I need a big win over a tough veteran who’s been in the game forever. Then the UFC will not be able to deny me my title shot.”
Emmett is not getting ahead of himself; Ortega and Edgar face each other in over a month to decide the next title contender. Emmett plans to wait his turn and face the champion once the top three work it out.
“My next fight will be for the title eliminator, I know I’ll sit sideline until Holloway and Edgar or Ortega fight and I’ll fight one of them…I’m not going to huff up there [demanding an immediate title shot], a lot of people are saying I don’t deserve that and I know what’s going on, I’m just saying that my next fight will be for the title after I beat Stephens.”
Doing what he does best
With Emmett gunning for the victory, how do we see this fight going? Well, as we all know any time two well-rounded fighters meet, there is that air of mystery as to what we’re going to get – this Saturday is no different.
“Our styles match up really well against each other, we both come from wrestling backgrounds and we’re both great strikers, we’re explosive. Those strikes that we throw will have bad intentions behind them, and I think it’s going to be a slugfest.”
Knowing that anything could be thrown his way Saturday night, Emmett is going in with an open mind and prepared for any battle ahead.
“I’m looking to go out there, do what I do best, perform under the bright lights and get my hand raised whether it’s 1 minute or 25 minutes, I’m ready for a war.”
And a war is one thing we can count on this weekend in Orlando, Florida. With both men impressively finishing their last opponents, this is not a fight to sleep on. Years of hard work and training have gone into this match-up and should result in a showcase of the elite-level competition in the UFC featherweight division. This bout is going to be a brawl regardless of how long it lasts, and if successful Saturday night, Emmett will validate himself as #4 in the world and one of the true contenders for the featherweight belt.
Josh Emmett is not only a fighter, he also runs his own apparel line. Check it out over at joshemmett.itemorder.com to support Emmett in his first UFC main event in Orlando, Florida.