Featherweight prospect Yair Rodriguez (11-2, 4 KOs, 2 SUBs) will meet veteran Jeremy Stephens (28-16, 19 KOs, 2 SUBs) at UFC on ESPN 6 on Saturday, October 18, 2019 at the TD Garden in Boston, MA. The main card airs live on ESPN starting 9pm ET.
Yair Rodriguez and Jeremy Stephens are coming off one of the most memorable matches this year - but not in a good way. Their main MMA event matchup in Mexico City was stopped just 15 seconds after it started, due to an inadvertent eye poke that left Stephens unable to continue. It all happened in front of an electrically charged crowd that had been waiting all night to cheer their native hero - and they were understandably pissed that they were robbed of the headliner.
Things got ugly real fast: the crowd littered the cage with trash. Stephens was pelted with beer and bottles as he was led out of the arena. For some reason, Rodriguez celebrated the No Contest like a victory, although he was probably still amped up. But El Pantera then went on to accuse of Lil’ Heathen of overplaying the injury, which culminated into a hotel lobby confrontation where Stephens shoved the Mexican fighter.
That, ladies and gentleman, is how you get a real, unmanufactured grudge match. While this was an awesome scrap to begin with, the bad blood undeniably adds more intrigue. To be honest, Rodriguez’s actions probably cost him a few fans: to think that Stephens - who has shared the cage with Max Holloway, Frankie Edgar, Anthony Pettis and Donald Cerrone - would take the easy way out after going through an entire training camp is just ridiculous.
One thing to note: since this matchup contest is now a co-main, it’s three rounds instead of five. That changes the dynamics of the fight, as both men have less time to get into rhythm and have far less margin for error.
In their first booking, the UFC odds at Betcris opened with the Mexican as a slight favorite. Still, the respect for Stephens is clear: he opened as a minus underdog in a razor-close matchup. Sign Up and Bet MMA at Betcris! Let’s break down your betting options, Live UFC betting at Betcris is available should you want to make bets during any fight on the card.
- Jeremy Stephens -115
- Yair Rodriguez -115
- Fight goes/doesn’t go to decision: -145 / +105
Significant Striking Stats
- Landed per minute: Rodriguez 4.06 / Stephens 3.08
- Striking accuracy: Rodriguez 43% / Stephens 40%
- Absorbed per minute: Rodriguez 3.11 / Stephens 2.84
- Defense: Rodriguez 58% / Stephens 59%
- Takedown average: Rodriguez 1.02 / Stephens 1.11
- Takedown accuracy: Rodriguez 33% / Stephens 36%
- Takedown defense: Rodriguez 68% / Stephens 64%
- Submission average: Rodriguez 1.02 / Stephens.41
We really can’t surmise much from the 15 second that they fought. Rodriguez opened up with a number of kicks, which is something we’ve come to expect from El Pantera. While Stephens was unable to land anything, he wasn’t backing down either. All in all, it had all the makings of banger.
El Pantera is one of the flashiest fighters at 145. Armed with explosive athleticism and an endless gas tank, the 26-year old deploys a dynamic, high-octane attack from start to finish. Jump kicks, spinning attacks, flying knees are all par for the course. At times it looks like he’s trying out for The Matrix reboot. While his unpredictability makes him a difficult fighter to prepare for, Frankie Edgar exposed a few key weaknesses - namely defensive wrestling.
Stephens isn’t a strong enough wrestler to follow Edgar’s lead, but he does have the sort of meat-and-potatoes striking game that could prove an effective neutralizer. Also, despite being around forever, he’s still just 33 - in the tail end of his prime. We’ve seen him evolve from an entertaining brawler into a refined combination puncher, taking a more refined approach to his bouts. He will always have a tendency to stand-and-trade, but he picks his spots far more effectively these days.
UFC Odds Pick: Rodriguez to win at -115
We can see why the online UFC odds are so close here, as Rodriguez is still somewhat unproven against top competition - the TKZ has a fluky feel to it as he was losing that fight. But we lean slightly on the Mexican as he has a better long-range game and is historically more aggressive.
The other bet we’d look at is that this fight goes to decision. While it might seem counterintuitive given how aggressive they both are, Rodriguez has only been finished by a doctor stoppage and finishes just over half of his opponents. At +166 we’ll take those odds.