When Cody Stevens’ (12-9-1) original opponent Brandon Seyler couldn’t make the rescheduled date for RFO: Big Guns 23, promoter Matt Trukovich and matchmaker Scott Corbin worked quickly to find a replacement.
When they did, that replacement came in the form of 60-fight veteran and longtime MMA journeyman Charles Bennett (29-30-2).
Always a fan favorite and known as a fighter willing to take tough fights on a minute’s notice, Stevens graciously accepted, and the two will now headline Big Guns 23 as RFO makes its debut in Cleveland tonight.
“As DMX would say, ‘Same old s**t dawg just a different day!,'” Stevens told BluegrassMMA. “It doesn’t matter; I train to fight the elite! Aoki, Rivera, Reis, Almeida…I can keep going. And all of those fights were on short notice. It’s called #Gameness and I have it.”
Stevens reels off those names some 20 fights into his pro career, which has featured one top name after another. In his third pro bout, he topped Donny Walker to win the NAAFS featherweight title. Walker would eventually go on to compete a pair of times in the UFC.
“The Wolverine” has also taken on Bellator MMA and World Series of Fighting veteran Saul Almeida, “Ultimate Fighter” veteran Jeff Smith, current UFC top flyweight contender Wilson Reis, MMA legend Shinya Aoki, and current UFC bantamweight contender Jimmie Rivera.
So taking on a fighter with a big name is nothing new for him.
Stevens could use a big-time win, however. He’s just 1-4 in his last five fights dating back to his bout against Aoki in 2013.
He’s also coming off of a hamstring injury sustained in his last bout against John De Jesus at Big Guns 20 in October. That marks just another line in the injury list for Stevens, who has battled injuries throughout much of his career.
A few years ago Stevens made the change to train with the Strong Style Fight Team in the Cleveland area, and he had been commuting round-trip from the Mansfield area to the gym.
“Obviously I’m always trying to improve in all areas,” Stevens said. “What really helped this training camp is that I stayed in Cleveland Monday and Tuesday evening with John Gunther and would come home late Wednesday night after training. Was nice not having to drive round-trip daily. Plus I could optimize my training and rest.”
On Thursdays and Fridays, Stevens runs his own gym in the Mansfield area, and the gym is starting to pick up steam.
“I have a nice group of kids as well as adults that work hard and put in effort!,” Stevens said. “[I’m] excited to watch the place grow!”
You can see Stevens take on Bennett in the main event at Big Guns 23 tonight on FloCombat. Check out the full lineup for Big Guns 23 here.