Born in Hammond, IN. Stephan has loved the art of fighting since childhood.
“I can recall getting into a fight on my first day of preschool. I wasn’t a bully, nor have I ever started fights. They just seem to find me.”
Growing up, he was fascinated with Bruce Lee, pro wrestling and boxing. He began wrestling at ten, and Tae Kwon Do at thirteen. Earning his Tae Kwon Do black belt, at the age of sixteen. As a high school wrestler, Stephan always longed to advance his fighting skill set.
“I remember back in high school after discovering the first few UFC’s, practicing arm bars during wrestling practice.”
Stephan graduated from Purdue University in 2000. And recently completed a Graduate degree in Muscle Activation Techniques.
“Life needs balance. Positive and Negative energy balance each other out as in yin-yang. I am familiar with the techniques to break people down (strikes and submissions), and now I will learn how to help them heal through these Muscle Activation Techniques.”
During the summer of 1999 Stephan began training at the Carlson Gracie Jr. Jiu Jitsu school in Chicago.
“A few months went by and I realized I was bored with working out. What am I training for? Why do it? I needed some competition. “
In the summer of 2001 and a fight promoter visited the school looking for fighters to compete in the Ironheart Crown that November. Stephan decided to give it a try. He defeated both his opponents by stoppage…and took home the title. Six months after the Ironheart Crown, the legendary Carlson Gracie Sr. came to Chicago, and Stephan became his protege.
“I learned so much in so little time. The man really knows his craft.”
Around this same time Stephan began training in boxing. He entered and won the super heavyweight Chicago Golden Gloves titles is 2002 (novice division) and again in 2004 (open division).
With the open title Stephan had the chance to compete in the national Golden Gloves tournament in Kansas City, MO. Here he stopped his first two opponents, both nationally ranked, then lost a close decision to one of the finalists in my third fight.
He also competed in various Jiu Jitsu tournaments, winning a gold medal in the Pan Ams in 2002 Adult Blue Belt division.
“Of course there is more to me than fighting. I also enjoy hanging out with my girlfriend, partying with my friends, Cubs games, Bears games, movies, vacations… I better stop, this is sounding to much like a singles ad.”
In the summer of 2004 Stephan was chosen to be a cast member of Spike TV’s “The Ultimate Fighter”. He went on to fight in the finale against Forrest Griffen, in what many describe as one of the greatest fights in UFC history.