The abrupt and anticlimactic ending to UFC Fight Night 159 in Mexico was bad enough, but the reprehensible reaction from the crowd only exacerbated the issue.
Just 15 seconds into the promising main event between Yair Rodriguez and Jeremy Stephens, the former accidentally poked the latter in the eye. The foul caused a halt to the action and Stephens was given the customary five minutes to recover. He tried, but was unable to open his eye, and the fight was ultimately called a no contest. Here is a look at the eye poke:
Both fighters were upset about the situation, but their reactions were nothing compared to what some in the crowd at Mexico City Arena did to show their displeasure. Watch as Stephens is hit with beer and popcorn as he is guided from the Octagon to the locker room.
It was an ugly situation that UFC security handled well, and thankfully we didn’t see a full on riot. UFC reporter Megan Olivi applauded the work of the security team.
Fans across the world were excited to see the dynamic Mexican Rodriguez perform in his home country against a hard-hitting contender like Stephens. Rodriguez is coming off a KO-of-the-Year performance in his last fight against Chan Sung Jung in November 2018. Rodriguez had a ton of pressure on him. He desperately wanted to shine in front of his Mexican fans, especially after being out for nearly a year, but a stroke of bad luck put both him and Stephens in a bad situation.
Anyone who has followed the sport and Stephens’ career can attest, he is not the kind of fighter who would look for an easy way out of a fight. If he said he couldn’t open his eye, the injury must have been significant.
According to Yair Rodriguez’s post-fight interview, which he needed to be calmed down to conduct, he is eager to set up a rematch with Stephens. His opponent may be out of action for a while, depending on the severity of his injury. Per reports from the arena, Stephens was still unable to open his eye several minutes after escaping the Octagon.
Unfortunately, horrible fan behavior and a less-than-ideal ending to the main event has become the biggest story from an evening that was otherwise packed with great performances and competitive fights. It should be said, there were more than 10,000 people present in the arena on Saturday night and not all of them were throwing debris at an already injured fighter.
Again, the negative often supersedes the good.