BOSTON — 27 days after the eye poke heard ’round the world, Yair Rodriguez stands on top.
“El Pantera” defeated Jeremy Stephens via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) in a wild back-and-forth rematch of the UFC Fight Night Mexico City main event, which was ruled a no contest after an accidental eye poke from Rodriguez left Stephens unable to perform.
The match was rescheduled for Friday night at TD Garden, and Rodriguez and Stephens did not disappoint fans. From the get-go the two featherweights delivered fireworks as Rodriguez uncorked a vicious leg kick to Stephens’ head and controlled the first round, out-striking Stephens 39-11, according to Fight Metric.
In the second round, Rodriguez had a chance to finish the fight with a flurry of strikes that knocked Stephens to the mat. Somehow, Stephens survived the onslaught, but was out-struck in the second round 41-11.
Stephens showed great resilience in the end of the second round and in the third round, out-striking Rodriguez 28-16 and landing two takedowns in the final frame. But in the end, it wasn’t enough as Rodriguez earned the victory.
Rodriguez improved to 8-1 in the UFC with a no contest, while Stephens fell to 28-17 overall and lost his third consecutive fight.
Thumbnail photo via Oct 18, 2019; Boston, MA, USA; Yair Rodriguez (red) fights Jeremy Stephens (blue) in a featherweight bout during UFC Fight Night at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports