Darren Stewart explains UFC on ESPN+ 32 dedication to friend Jahreau Shepherd

LAS VEGAS – Darren Stewart entered UFC on ESPN+ 32 with a heavy heart, but he still picked up a victory.

Stewart (12-5 MMA, 5-1 UFC) defeated Maki Pitolo with a first-round submission Saturday. In doing so, he didn’t forget the memory of a friend, Jahreau Shepherd – a fellow MMA fighter, who was killed July 11 when celebrating his 30th birthday.

“I feel like the anger and emotion kind of slowed me down a bit,” Stewart said during his post-fight news conference. “Everyone said I performed well. I need to watch it back. But tomorrow? I think it’s gone, finally. I needed to let it out somehow.”

Stewart offered up advice to others who might be suffering from loss, encouraging them to talk with others or pick up hobbies to keep their minds off of tragedies.

“If you’re going through something like that, speak to someone about it – or go do something you love,” Stewart said. “It was hard at home. I’m upset. People won’t see it. I laugh and joke on Instagram. I make little TikToks here and there. But outside of that, I was hurt. … I want to just do something – that kind of thing because I’m just angry of what happened to him. I know I need to fight. I need to fight, man. We could do this on the street, but I’m happy I took the fight.”

As for what’s next, Stewart said he considered implementing an on-call lifestyle, just in case the UFC needs a fighter on short-notice. However, Stewart has had second guesses.

“At first, I wanted to do that, but I didn’t know how hard it was to miss weight,” Stewart said. “It’s crazy. Because of the heat (in Las Vegas), you think it’s hard to make weight … It’s a madness – oh my God. I’ll be good. I’ll be good. If I can fly, I’ll come back again and quarantine again. Yeah, I’ll do it. After this fight, I’m trying to stay ready.”

UFC on ESPN+ 32 took place Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The card streamed on ESPN+.

Original article: https://mmajunkie.usatoday.com/2020/08/darren-stewart-ufc-on-espn-plus-32-dedication-friend-jahreau-shepherd/

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