Stepping in his place is an unexpected replacement in debuting former WEC lightweight Danny Downes, the Roufusport fighter and teammate of Anthony Pettis, Pat Barry and more.
Downes makes his UFC debut fresh off a first round victory in a local Wisconsin event earlier this month, a fight he took with the UFC's blessing while still under contract with them. He split his two fights in their former sister promotion WEC, losing to Chris Horodecki - a fight he took on extremely short notice and out of fighting shape - before upsetting Chinese fighter Tie Quan Zhang at WEC 53 in December.
But he takes on a very different level of opponent than he's faced in the past in Stephens. "Lil' Heathen" has won three of his last four fights, the lone loss in that stretch being a close split decision loss to Melvin Guillard that he still believes he won. After going to a split decision in consecutive fights, Stephens found himself down two rounds against Marcus Davis before knocking him out in the third round in his last fight.
The Ultimate Fighter 13 Finale takes place June 4 from the Pearl at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas, headlined by the lightweight bout between Downes' teammate Pettis and Clay Guida.
Penick's Analysis: This is a serious step up in competition for Downes. He's entering on short notice having just fought this month, so he's likely not going to have any issues being in shape for the fight, but Stephens is no joke, and this is a dangerous fight for most anyone to take on short notice. Of course, Downes surprised everyone with his performance against Zhang in December. If he's got it in him again he'll make one hell of a statement with an upset of Stephens.