UFC on ESPN+ 17 in Mexico City, Mexico, featured a pivotal featherweight bout as hometown hero and #7 ranked Yair ‘Al Pantera’ Rodriguez took on dangerous striker and #8 ranked Jeremy ‘Lil Heathen’ Stephens.
The fight solely on paper, promised to be a barn burner. The stylistic template of fight had fans already excited and intrigued. That was however short lived as Stephens suffered an accidental eye poke from Rodriguez within 10 seconds of the fight. What seemed like a superficial one, quickly escalated to the point where Stephens couldn’t continue and the fight had to be called off as a ‘no contest’.
Stephens finally broke his silence as he addressed the injury with a heavily bandaged eye. An infuriated Stephens took to Twitter calling out Rodriguez, further campaigning for a rematch. (via Twitter):
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) September 22, 2019
“Yair, you think I’m faking, bro – you’re the one that poked me in the eye,” he said. “Let’s run it back (in) four or five weeks, two weeks, whatever. I’ll be ready. Let’s run it back, motherf*cker.”
A steaming Rodriguez expressed an element of doubt about Stephens’ injury in his post-fight octagon interview. That obviously didn’t go well with Stephens.
Tensions flared inside the arena as the audience started pelting beer cans, popcorn and plastic bottles inside the octagon, particularly on Stephens. A disappointed Rodriguez then addressed the frustrated crowd and demanded a rematch.