Jeremy Stephens vs. Estevan Payan
Payan comes out flicking a jab and lands a couple strong leg kicks outside. It’s Stephens coming forward, though, now throwing some hard low kicks of his own. One lands on Payan’s cup and referee Chris Tognoni pauses the action momentarily. Payan recovers and denies a takedown attempt from Stephens against the fence when they resume. They move to the center of the cage as Stephens continues to punish Payan’s lead leg. An overhand right from Payan appears to stagger Stephens, but the “Lil’ Heathen” shakes it off to shoot again. Payan tries a guillotine as they fall to the ground, but Stephens pops his head loose to set up in the Arizona Combat Sport fighter’s guard. Payan lands a couple solid shots from his back, then eats an elbow from Stephens. Upkick lands for Payan and he scrambles to his feet, bleeding from his forehead after the Stephens elbow. Stephens keeps Payan on the fence, where “El Terrible” looks for another guillotine. Stephens avoids it and completes the double-leg with 90 seconds left in the round, then cracks Payan with a knee as he stands back up. Stephens lands a kick inside, takes a right-handed counter in return. More hard inside leg kicks land for Stephens, then a big right straight staggers Payan with 45 seconds left. Stephens finishes the round strong with a leg kick, another big right hand and a slapping kick to the body.
Stephens goes straight back to the right hand and lands it on a leaning Payan less than 15 seconds into the round. Payan is on his back foot, still bleeding from the cut opened in the first round, but trying to retaliate with leg kicks and punches; most of the punches miss, but a couple leg kicks connect. Stephens hits a takedown on the fence and Payan quickly works back up. Stephens keeps the action on the fence until he’s able to land another takedown. Once on the floor, Stephens works Payan’s face with more elbows from guard, bloodying him further. Stephens gets mount with two minutes left and Payan gives up his back. Stephens tries a neck crank, can’t get the tap and gives it up. Payan is just gushing blood all over the canvas as he kneels with Stephens on his back and fends off a rear-naked choke attempt. There is a sizeable pool of blood on the ground when Payan gets up at the end of the round.
Payan looks to be the aggressor in the early going of the final round, but Stephens lands the first big offense with a thudding high kick to the side of Payan’s face. Stephens snaps off some quick punches, dodges a few slow ones from Payan, and then hits another takedown. Right hands from Stephens now, as he traps a kneeling Payan against the fence. Payan gets to his feet, his face covered in blood, and defends a double-leg attempt by grabbing the fence, for which he’s warned by ref Tognoni. Payan turns it around and now puts Stephens’ back to the cage, but Stephens soon explodes out and plows Payan to the mat in the middle of the cage. Payan continues to cover the canvas in blood as Stephens drops elbows from side-control to the final horn.
Official result: The judges score the bout 30-26, 30-26 and 30-27 for the winner by unanimous decision, Jeremy Stephens.
Brian Bowles vs. George Roop
The rangy Roop comes out throwing a head kick which Bowles backs away from. Bowles moves around the outside, pushed out by a front-kick from Roop. A knee lands for Roop as he pulls Bowles into the Thai plum and releases. Bowles digs a right to the body, sticks and moves with a jab, then takes a leg kick outside. A left to the body lands for Bowles, then a right hand behind the ear puts Roop on rubbery legs. Roop comes forward and throws a straight punch, countered by another right from Bowles, who goes back to moving around the perimeter. Bowles blocks a couple high kicks from Roop and dodges a knee, but Roop runs in behind it to land a one-two and a slapping head kick. Bowles tries to counter and walks into a jab; Roop goes to the outside with a leg kick, misses one up high. A combination from Roop puts Bowles on the fence momentarily, then they circle out. Another right hand behind the ear takes the legs out from underneath Roop. Bowles smells blood and pounces, catching Roop in a deep guillotine with 50 seconds left. Roop looks like he’ll be able to survive on top, then the choke gets deeper as Bowles...