Was The Knee In The Finishing Sequence Legal?
UFC Orlando was headlined by two hard-hitting featherweights Saturday night. Both Jeremy Stephens and Josh Emmett looked to make a statement and prove they are one of the best fighters in the world at 145 pounds.
The more experienced Stephens overcame adversity and knocked Emmett out cold 1:35 into the second round. But not without controversy.
It appeared in the final strikes landed, Emmett (13-2) was hit with a knee to the head, while he was on the ground. It is illegal to hit a ground opponent with a knee in their head. Stephens (27-14) was asked about the knee after the fight.
“(Ref) Dan Miragliotta came in the back, he said under this state specifically is the new rules,” Stephens said at the post-fight press conference. “He said if two hands are on the ground, you can lift one hand up to throw a knee. When I rocked him, I waited for an opportunity. I was looking for to throw the knee. It wasn’t just heat of the moment, I’m just throwing stuff because I’m not a dirty fighter. I never have been.”
The finish can be seen below via the UFC on Fox’s twitter. The knee in question can be seen at around the 25-second mark of the video.
— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) February 25, 2018
Both fighters landed good shots in the first round, but it was Emmett who landed the biggest blow of the round, knocking Stephens down. Stephens was able to recover in between rounds and gave credit to his corner for the advice.
When asked what his corner told him, Stephens said, “They said everything I’m doing is fine. You felt his power. Keep doing what you’re doing. We’re seeing it and he was talking about throwing a little bit more kicks. Everything I was seeing…I felt his power. I didn’t really felt like he hit really hard until I ran into something. I knew I ran into it, that was my mistake. Keep my hands up, keep going, I felt it, add a bit more kicks keep pressing him, bite down and go into that chest.”
The win should move Stephens into the top five and closer to a title shot. Stephens was also awarded a Performance of the Night bonus, his third bonus in a row. #2 Frankie Edgar and #3 Brian Ortega fight on March 3rd at UFC 222. The winner of that fight is expected to earn a title shot against champion Max Holloway.