Prior to each UFC fight card, Jay Primetown takes a look at some of the key contests at each event. In the latest installment, we look ahead to the main event of UFC Fight Night 124 as Doo Ho Choi takes on Jeremy Stephens in St. Louis, Missouri.
Doo Ho Choi (Record: 14-2, -160 Favroite, Power Ranking: B)
Doo Ho Choi enters his first fight in over a year in his first main event fight in the UFC. In Choi’s last outing, he went toe to toe with Cub Swanson in what was on the shortlist for fight of the year in 2016. Prior to his decision loss with Swanson, Choi had knocked out his last eight opponents.
The Korean Superboy” is one of the most hyped prospects in the UFC. While he certainly isn’t the hardest hitting or the highest level athlete in the UFC, he interests fans because of his wonderful technique on the feet. Choi is one of the best counterstrikers not only in the featherweight division, but all of the UFC. The Superboy allows his opponents opportunities to close the distance, but it’s for good reason. Choi has an excellent overhand right. Choi lands 52% of his significant strikes and does a fantastic job of catching opponents off balance. Choi is capable of finishing opponents with one punch making him an electric prospect in the smaller weight classes. Choi doesn’t have the greatest striking defense in the world and can be hit and hurt in fights. He does recover well and in the Swanson fight showed he’s very difficult to finish. Also his ground game is a question mark and most opponents will look to take him to the mat where his major gifts are contained.
Jeremy Stephens (Record: 26-14, +140 Underdog, Power Ranking: B)
The Iowa-born, Alliance MMA-trained featherweight has made the most of his move down to featherweight having been a regular on the division’s top 15 rankings. Stephens is coming off one of the best performances his career putting on a tremendous leg kick display over former Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez.
Stephens has been in a mainstay in the featherweight rankings since dropping down from lightweight. While he’s not a high volume striker, what he does do is put power in all of his strike attempts. Stephens is not a tight, technical striker, instead he tends to throw heavy looping punches. The quicker, better footwork opponents tend to be able to avoid them, but fighters who lack quality footwork tend to struggle against him. Once Stephens lands clean, it tends to slow his opponents down where he has a clear advantage. However, the question remains whether he is able to land as his volume is relatively for the division and he can be outpointed in bouts. He can mix it up a bit wrestling, but ultimately his goal is to win by knockout. Defensively his takedown defense is only 64% and opponents have taken him down in the past to control and slow him down.
In the UFC Fight Night 124 main event, Doo Ho Choi takes on Jeremy Stephens. Both fighters are coming off fight of the night performances, so expect this to be more of the same. I don’t expect much of a feeling out process at all. Stephens will be on the front foot in this bout and will be the aggressor from the onset. On the flip side, this plays into Choi’s strength of counterstriking. Choi thrives on facing fighters with looping punches in which he can time his right hand off the counter. While the “Lil Heathen” could hurt Choi if he lands, this striking matchup really bodes well for the South Korean fighter. Look for Choi to land his patented right overhand on the counter and catch Stephens repeatedly in this bout. Stephens hasn’t been finished since 2012, but just how clean Choi is capable of landing will be a real challenge for him to survive 25 minutes. Choi has the ability to earn the spectacular finish and I see him doing so in this bout. Choi by knockout is +145 and is by far the most likely scenario in this bout. Choi by TKO/KO is one of the better prop bets on the card considering the unlikelihood of a decision victory or submission.