Highly Controversial KO Ends UFC Main Event Between Jeremy Stephens and Josh Emmett

Jeremy Stephens earned another KO, but in controversial fashion.

This past Saturday night at UFC Orlando, the main event featured a shocking knockout of UFC Featherweight Jeremy Stephens over rising contender Josh Emmett. The finish was spectacular but controversial. On commentary, UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier was first to claim that Stephens had landed a illegal blow.


After the fight, DC stuck around to argue with former Bantamweight champion and teammate to Stephens, Dominick Cruz. The replay showed that Stephens dropped Emmett with a solid left hook, then looked for the finish. He landed many strikes in the finishing sequence, two of those were elbows, blatantly to the back of the skull. However, because Emmett moved the back of his head into the path of the elbows, they were legal.

The real controversy came from a knee. The knee appeared to glance of Emmet’s head, and strike it again on the way down. Emmett’s hand was on the ground during the knee, so it was illegal.

At first Cruz, maintained that the knee never landed, then he argued that the knee did not make a difference in the ending. Cormier’s argument was:

“It didn’t hurt Josh Emmett, but it doesn’t have to. As long as it hits your opponent, it is an illegal shot. It doesn’t have to hurt Josh Emmett. Dom said something to the affect of, ‘that was a nasty knee, if it landed it would have been over immediately. It doesn’t have to be over immediately.’ As long as it makes contact, it is an illegal blow and it’s over.”

In the end, it appears Cormier is right- the knee undoubtedly made contact, even if only glancing contact. The real problem is the rule: How is a fighter, in the heat of the moment supposed to register whether or not one of his opponent’s palms is in contact with the canvas?

It’s unlikely the result will be overturned. With this win Stephens puts him in line for the belt. However, with champion Max Holloway injured and Frankie Edgar fighting Brian Ortega for the interim belt, it’s unclear if Stephens’s next fight will be for UFC gold.

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