Klose: Stephens should be punished for 'cheap shot' during faceoff
Josh Hedges / UFC / Getty

Drakkar Klose doesn't think Jeremy Stephens should get off scot-free after pushing him during their weigh-in staredown last month.

The UFC lightweight suffered a neck sprain and concussion when Stephens shoved him the day before they were set to meet in the co-main event of a UFC Fight Night card on April 17 in Las Vegas. The bout was called off just hours before it was scheduled to take place.

Klose, who is still recovering from the incident, hopes either the UFC or Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) punish Stephens for his actions.

"You do that in the NFL, NBA, any other major sport, there's a consequence to it," Klose told theScore. "We're professional athletes. We're held at a higher standard.

"That's a b---- move, that's a cheap shot that he did," Klose added.

UFC president Dana White blamed the incident on matchmaker Sean Shelby, who was in charge of handling the faceoffs that day. He said Shelby should've gotten between Stephens and Klose before the push occurred. But Klose disagrees.

"It wasn't Sean's fault," Klose said. "I put the blame on Jeremy. Be professional."

Based on White's comments and the fact that the NSAC hasn't commented on the incident, it seems unlikely Stephens will face a fine or suspension. Klose has a feeling he would've faced much harsher consequences if he caused the incident.

"I believe 100% I would've been cut," Klose said. "Things play out differently for different people. There are things Conor (McGregor) can do that other people can't. I think they would've made an example out of me."

Klose immediately felt his arm and hand go numb after Stephens pushed him. The next day, he woke up with a headache and felt nauseous, and he vomited before the UFC's doctor sent him to the hospital.

Two and a half weeks later, Klose estimates he's 60% or 70% recovered. He returned to the gym last week but hasn't trained again since because his head felt "a little cloudy" during the session.

"I just want to make sure my head is 100% before I do anything," Klose said. "I don't want to go in there and rush it, get hit once, and then I'm trying to recover from that."

Klose said he didn't expect Stephens to go "buck wild" during the faceoff since they were cordial when they saw each other at the UFC Performance Institute earlier in the week. The 33-year-old guessed the animosity might have stemmed from his comment that Bellator was "waiting" for Stephens, who's riding a five-fight winless streak and hasn't won a bout since 2018.

Klose hadn't fully recovered from his weight cut ahead of the faceoff, with the staredown happening about an hour after he made weight. Klose said he wasn't prepared to take a heavy shove but learned he needs to be on high alert during future faceoffs.

"I had very little water back in my body," Klose said. "I signed the contract to fight Saturday, not Friday, so I'm not worried about being in a physical altercation at that time. I was in my weakest form when he pushed me - hands behind my back, not expecting anything. ... But it is what it is. From here on out, I know what to expect at weigh-ins."

Klose is targeting a return to the cage in August or September, and he hopes it'll be against Stephens. He said he's heard rumblings that the UFC wants to book Stephens earlier than that, but he doesn't mind if Stephens faces a different opponent first as long as he gets to fight him eventually.

"I'm going to fight him one day," Klose said. "Either in the cage or when I see him at an event. We're going to fight somewhere."

Despite his desire to fight him, Klose said he bears no ill will toward Stephens and still respects the veteran.

"I understand he's on a five-fight losing streak," Klose said. "He loses one more fight, and he's definitely getting cut. He's trying to hype himself up. That's what some fighters have to do. He was trying to play that tough man card."

Klose received his show and Venum money for the scratched bout, but he believes he also should've gotten his win bonus since the cancellation was out of his control.

"I did everything that I was supposed to do," Klose said. "And because of (Stephens') stupidity, I lost out on an opportunity to fight. A co-main event."

Another staredown incident happened last week in Las Vegas, with Ion Cutelaba grabbing Dustin Jacoby by the neck before their light heavyweight clash, which proceeded as planned. Again, the NSAC didn't comment on the situation.

Klose hopes to see more commissions take action against this kind of behavior.

"What are they there for?" Klose said. "Who's there to protect the fighters? If the UFC's not protecting us and the commission's not protecting us, who's protecting us?"

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Klose: Stephens should be punished for 'cheap shot' during faceoff
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