The UFC on ESPN+ 17 main event between Yair Rodriguez and Jeremy Stephens ended before it could even get started on Saturday in Mexico.
On the opening exchange, Rodriguez reached out with his outstretched arm and swiped Stephens’ left eye, resulting in an eye poke. Referee Herb Dean called a halt to the contest, allowing Stephens a full five minutes to try and recover.
Never one to back down, Stephens couldn’t open his left eye, even after five minutes, and Dean was left with no option but to stop the fight.
Fans booed and threw items into the Octagon. Rodriguez was fuming, initially pulling away from interviewer Michael Bisping when Bisping tried to interview him following the fight.
Cooling down, Rodriguez apologized to Bisping, admitting, “I feel really bad about it. Jeremy will be back. We’ll do it again.”
When pressed if the fight with Stephens was what he wanted next, Rodriguez was again fired up, screaming, “Doesn’t matter who I fight, as long as it’s the top, viva Mexico!”
Top ten ranked strawweights Carla Esparza and Alexa Grasso fought a tough back-and-forth affair that lasted all three round of their co-main event in Mexico City.
Though Grasso was quicker on her punches, she couldn’t stop Esparza’s takedown attempts in the first two rounds. She caught Esparza on a few occasions, but Esparza spent a lot of time dominating rounds one and two by planting Grasso on the canvas and working punches and elbows from inside the full guard.
Grasso put forth a tremendous effort in the final round, landing some brutal punches that staggered Esparza and bloodied her face, but she couldn’t put Esparza away. She finally stopped an Esparza takedown, but eventually landed on the canvas again. This time, however, Grasso was the aggressor, attempting submissions and striking from her back, as Esparza appeared dazed from the damage she took.
Following three rounds, Esparza was declared the winner by majority decision, earning scores of 28-28, 29-28, and 29-28 on the judges’ scorecards.
Steven Peterson landed a spectacular knockout of Martin Bravo with a spinning backfist out of nowhere that put Bravo out cold on his back to open the UFC on ESPN+ 17 main card.
UFC on ESPN+ 17: Rodriguez vs. Stephens results
Yair Rodríguez vs. Jeremy Stephens ruled a no contest (accidental eye poke) at 0:15, R1
Carla Esparza def. Alexa Grasso by majority decision (28-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Brandon Moreno vs. Askar Askarov ruled a split draw (28-28, 28-29, 30-27)
Irene Aldana def. Vanessa Melo by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26)
Steven Peterson def. Martin Bravo by KO (spinning backfast) at 1:31, R2
José Alberto Quiñónez def. Carlos Huachin by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Kyle Nelson def. Polo Reyes by TKO (punches) at 1:36, R1
Angela Hill def. Ariane Carnelossi by TKO (doctor stoppage) at 1:56, R3
Sergio Pettis def. Tyson Nam by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Paul Craig def. Vinicius Moreira by submission (rear-naked choke) at 3:19, R1
Bethe Correia def. Sijara Eubanks by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Claudio Puelles def. Marcos Rosa Mariano by unanimous decision (30-25, 30-25, 30-25)