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Yair Rodriguez on UFC Mexico: ‘I know how it feels to have an eye closed, and I still can fight’

Yair Rodriguez speaks out about the disappointing ending of his UFC Mexico headliner fight against Jeremy Stephens.

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UFC Mexico’s headliner fight between Yair Rodriguez and Jeremy Stephens showed a disappointing finish. Stephens was accidentally poked in the eye, resulting to a No Contest when he was unable to continue after being given a five-minute recovery period by referee Herb Dean.

The result left Rodriguez and the fans in attendance deeply frustrated. During the ESPN post-fight show with Karyn Bryant and Dan Hardy, “El Pantera” spoke further about the fight’s outcome.

“You always have to give the benefit of the doubt to your opponent, how he’s feeling,” he said. “But he’s the only one who’s gonna have to live with that in his mind for the rest of his life if it was a lie.

“I can’t imagine how it feels to have an eye poke out there, but I know how it feels to have an eye closed. And I still can fight.”

What Rodriguez was referring to was his fight with Frankie Edgar at UFC 211 in May 2017, where he had his left eye shut from the beating. The bout ended via second-round TKO as advised by doctors, but according to him, he tried to lie his way into getting the OK to continue fighting.

“Even like that, even though I couldn’t see, I was ready to go the third round,” Rodriguez said. “Because I said ‘yes, I can see’, even if it was a lie.”

When asked if he was willing to take a rematch against “Li’l Heathen,” Rodriguez admits he is a bit hesitant.

“Jeremy Stephens is a fight I didn’t want to take because he was behind me on the rankings,” he explained. “Not because of his toughness or whatever.

“I don’t think it really matters what I say. The UFC has plans and the rankings move fast in this game.

“I was looking to fight someone who’s ahead of me in the rankings, and of course, I’m looking for that title shot,” he added.

Prior to UFC Mexico, Rodriguez in November 2018 against “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung, where he scored a last-minute elbow knockout in the fifth round.

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