After spending thousands of dollars and several weeks in Mexico, Jeremy Stephens left with a damaged eye and half his paycheck after his fight against Yair Rodriguez was stopped just 15 seconds into the opening round.
Stephens was unable to continue after Rodriguez inadvertently poked his eye during the opening exchange, which eventually led to the stoppage. According to Stephens, he was at the hospital before he was finally able to open his eyes, and that prevented him from seeing the nasty scene that closed out UFC Fight Night in Mexico City.
When the fight was stopped, fans started throwing trash towards the Octagon while Stephens and his team had beer and other garbage tossed on them as they rushed out of the arena.
Despite the ugly situation, Stephens, who will face Rodriguez again at UFC Boston, actually sympathizes with the crowd’s reaction, because the last thing he wanted to do was leave under those circumstances.
“No, I like beer – they were throwing beer,” Stephens told MMA Fighting on Monday. “I get it. Trust me, I get it. I know how the Mexican crowd was, I knew they were booing me. I love that situation. I actually love being the underdog or the bad guy. I totally get it.
“It would have been the same thing if I won. I would have knocked him out, I’m always jumping over [the cage], hugging my wife, who knows what would have happened. Nothing I can do. It’s out of my control.”
The only people Stephens wishes hadn’t been caught in the middle of the situation were the security guards, who actually got hit with the majority of the trash being thrown by the crowd as they covered he and his team as they exited the arena.
Outside of that, Stephens says there’s no bad blood with the crowd in Mexico whatsoever.
“I just felt bad for the people who were trying to protect my family and the other people, because some of those people ended up getting hurt,” Stephens said. “I heard Carla Esparza had a beer thrown on her before she even came out. That’s not class at all, but that’s expected when you go to another country. They’re rivals and crazy fans.
“I actually kind of embrace that chaos. It was just one of those weird nights. I don’t hold any ill will.”
As far as his own emotions afterward, Stephens says he barely had a chance to react to anything before he was rushed out of the arena so he could receive medical treatment.
It wasn’t until later that the disappointment washed over him that the fight was stopped just 15 seconds after it started.
“I didn’t really have time to have emotion,” Stephens said. “My coached grabbed me and goes, ‘Yo, we gotta get the f—k out of here,’ and that’s when it all just kind of started coming down. It wasn’t until I got to the back where my head’s down.
“It sucks to go out like that. I had an amazing time and experience in Mexico. I chose to be down there. I spent a lot of time away from my family, and so did the other camp. Those guys spent time away from their families (and) spent money.
“Mexican people...it’s not real rich down there, (and) those people paid their hard earned money. They want to see a fight. I get it. Security did a good job, because some of those people ended up getting f—ked up down there, too, the way it went. When I was in the back it was all mixed emotions. I didn’t want to make any decisions when I was angry and upset. I just wanted to get the f—k out of there and figure out what’s going on with my eye.”