Stephens, undefeated in three pro fights, will put his unbeaten record on the line on Saturday, Aug. 18 in the co-main event of the 3FC "Evolution" card at Camp Jordan Arena in East Ridge.
Stephens, who trains out of Blalock's IBM in Chattanooga, will face Wesley Sullivan (Team Nemesis/Murfreesboro, Tenn.) in a 175-pound bout.
The 2007 Georgia state high school wrestling champion and three-time state runner-up, hasn't fought since Feb. 12, 2011 when he needed just 1:10 to submit Jay Diamond at XFN 6 in Chattanooga.
Prior to that, Stephens won three-round unanimous decisions against Ryan Quinn at XFC 11 (July 9, 2010) and Joe Heink at XFC 13 (Dec. 3, 2010). He also went 6-0 with four knockouts as an amateur fighter.
In the meantime, Stephens has been wrestling for Lindsey Wilson College in Kentucky and was last season's NAIA 174-pound national runner-up as a sophomore. Stephens previously won the NCWA 184-pound national title while wrestling for Tennessee Temple in March of 2010.
A torn rotator cuff had kept him out of the MMA cage, but now fully healed, Stephens said he's ready to get back in the game.
"It took a full year for my shoulder to heal," he explained. "I was still training in wrestling, though, so my body was in good shape. It felt good to get back (to MMA fighting). My timing was a little off, but I worked hard to get it back. It didn't take too long."
Sullivan is 1-0 as a pro, but was 12-5 as an amateur, and Stephens said he expects to see a lot of wrestling action in the bout, based on what he's seen of Sullivan on film."
"He was a wrestler, so he likes to try and take people down," Stephens said. "He looks like he knows what he's doing out there, but I'm not sure he's ever fought professionally at this level before. It will be a big step for him, so we'll see if he's stepped up his training."
Stephens said he's been working on his stand-up game, along with defensive wrestling, in preparation for the fight.
"I've wrestled my whole life, so I'm confident I can keep him from taking me down," he said. "Then I can be the one dictating the fight and doing what I want to do."
Stephens said he had an opportunity to fight in the main event on a televised XFC card on Aug. 3, but passed up the chance so he could fight locally in front of family, friends, and other supporters.
"It's going to be great to fight in front of people I know and have the home crowd behind me," he added.
Doors open at 5 p.m. with the undercard beginning at 5:30 with both pro and amateur fights. Tickets will go on sale on Friday, June 29 for reserved first, second, and third row seats at www.3fcmma.com and at www.beafantickets.com. These reserved seats sold out during 3FC's last show at Camp Jordan.
Cage-side tables seating eight are available for $350 and are very limited. General admission tickets are $30 each. For more information, call (865) 256-2330.