The UFC’s return to Mexico City ended in disaster on Saturday night.
The main event came to a close after Yair Rodriguez caught Jeremy Stephens with an inadvertent eye poke just 15 seconds into the opening round and when he was unable to continue, the fight was declared a no contest.
The action barely got a chance to start before Rodriguez pawed at Stephens with an open hand during the first exchange of the fight that saw the veteran featherweight immediately wince in pain.
Dean came over to check on Stephens, who couldn’t even open his eye to allow the referee to take a look at the damage done. The doctor soon made his way into to the Octagon in an attempt to shine a light in Stephens’ eye to find out if he could possibly continue.
It was clear after five minutes had passed that Stephens was unable to see with his eye still tightly closed and Dean had no choice but to call a stop to the contest.
Immediately after the fight ended, the Mexico City crowd began bombarding the fighters inside the Octagon with trash as a chorus of boos washed over them. It was an unfortunate close to the show as Stephens was ushered out of the cage still clasping his face as he was pelted with garbage while leaving the arena.
Rodriguez was also visibly upset as his return to Mexico came to a disappointing conclusion.
“I apologize a great deal,” Rodriguez said afterwards. “We both trained very hard for this fight. I feel really bad about it. Jeremy will be back, let’s do this again.”
Considering how the fight ended, it’s entirely possible the UFC looks to rebook the matchup but that will also depend on how much damage Stephens sustained from the eye poke that forced the stoppage.