Nowadays, the Alliance MMA fighter is a disciplined featherweight working his way up the ranks.
The veteran from Iowa scored one of his biggest career victories on Saturday night as he shut down Darren Elkins in the main-card opener of UFC on FOX 10 at Chicago's United Center. Stephens won a unanimous decision, taking two scores of 30-27 and a 29-28.
Stephens was long known to live and die with is big right hand. But on Saturday, he showed great takedown defense, stuffing Elkins on all five of his takedown attempts in the first round.
In round two, Stephens kept up the pressure, landing nice combos and making Elkins look increasingly frustrated and off his game.
Elkins, a resident of nearby Indiana, finally showed some urgency in the third round. But even then, he walked into a Stephens takedown in the early going. Elkins got Stephens into a choke in the fight's closing seconds, but it wasn't enough.
Stephens improved to 23-9 on his career and 3-0 since he dropped to featherweight. Elkins (17-4) has dropped two of his past three.