Their first bout in September 2019 ended in a no contest just 15 seconds into the fight after Rodriguez inadvertently poked Stephens in the eye and rendered him unable to continue. Rodriguez was irate and accused Stephens of faking his injury. The crowd erupted and things got ugly in Rodriguez’s home country of Mexico.
With unfinished business between them, Rodriguez and Stephens ran things back less than a month later and the intensity of their rivalry lived up to the hype. Rodriguez started the fight with a flying side kick to the face, which set the tone for his kick-heavy approach.
Both men swung wildly to start, with Rodriguez attacking the body. Rodriguez’s body work paid off when he dropped Stephens with a brutal liver kick in Round 2 and followed it up with a barrage of punches, but Stephens survived the onslaught. Rodriguez started to slow down in Round 3 and although Stephens rallied with a late takedown, it wasn’t enough to win the fight.
Rodriguez (13-2 MMA, 8-1 UFC) returns to action Saturday when he takes on Max Holloway (22-6 MMA, 18-6 UFC) in the main event of UFC Fight Night 197 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
Before he faces Holloway, relive Rodriguez’s win over Stephens in the video above.
Yair Rodriguez def. Jeremy Stephens at UFC on ESPN 6: Best photos
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