UFC veteran Jeremy Stephens predicted video would surface of his confrontation with Yair Rodriguez. Less than 24 hours later, he was proven right.
Video of the near-dustup at the fighter hotel following UFC Mexico was posted on Tuesday by Spanish-language website Indiscutido. It appears to back up claims from both fighters after the indicident was made public.
Shot from behind Rodriguez in what appears to be daytime, the video shows the Mexican fighter approaching Stephens in the lobby after asking if he’s OK.
Much of the exchange is inaudible. But Stephens, who’s wearing sunglasses, can be heard saying, “Run it back.” Rodriguez replies, “Sure? But what happened?”
Then Stephens shoves Rodriguez, hard.
Onlookers quickly intervene to separate the fighters, who’d hours earlier faced off in the octagon, only to be disappointed by a no-contest. Things quickly turn ugly, with both Rodriguez and Stephens calling each other foul names, including a homophobic slur.
”You’re going to have to live with that for the rest of your f*cking life,” Rodriguez said. “It’s not me. I’m fine, motherf*cker.
”Yeah, real easy to punk somebody like that,” Stephens replies. “Let’s run it back. Call (UFC matchmaker) Sean (Shelby). Run it back.
”Yeah, run it back – that was yesterday,” Rodriguez spits.
Just hours earlier, Stephens was unable to continue when Rodriguez inadvertently raked his eyes just 15 seconds into the ESPN+ headliner of this past Saturday’s event at Mexico City Arena. The crowd taunted Stephens and pelted him and UFC staff with debris as they left the arena.
Rodriguez leapt onto the cage in an effort to rally the crowd, he later told reporters. But he also lashed out at UFC commentator Michael Bisping before regaining his composure.
Rodriguez expressed sympathy toward Stephens while also appearing to question the severity of his eye injury, citing a previous fight where he lied to cageside doctors in order to continue.
Stephens claimed Rodriguez initiated the hotel confrontation.
”He comes up, shakes my hand and then immediately starts talking s—t,” Stephens said. “Where I come from, you don’t do that, bro. I shoved him back across the hotel, and I saw that his sister was recording with her phone, thinking they’re going to catch some little glimpse, or him talking s—t to me.
”He got shoved and once he got shoved, he didn’t even take a step forward. His family didn’t do s—t either. I was about to smack him and his coaches and anybody who came at me, but they all immediately backed up.”
Stephens downplayed his eye injury as minor – despite a potential six-month suspension for a corneal abrasion – and angrily requested a rematch with Rodriguez.
Rodriguez told ESPN.com he’d like to see proof that Stephens suffered a legitimate eye injury and said he would publicly apologize if proven wrong.
Stephens isn’t optimistic they’ll ever run across each other in the octagon.
”I guarantee you the kid doesn’t want it,” Stephens said. “My bet money is that he doesn’t accept the fight, he bitches out and runs. That’s what he does. You saw how he acted after the win. He’s celebrating like he won over an eye poke. Who does that? The kid was nervous all week. I was up in his head, I’m still in his head, and he can either accept the fight or get the f—k out of my way.”