UFC fighters Jeremy Stephens and Yair Rodriguez exchange gay slurs during confrontation in hotel

USA Today Sports 1 month ago

A hotel altercation between UFC fighters Jeremy Stephens and Yair Rodriguez in Mexico City came to light Monday.

Tuesday, video of the incident surfaced that appears to back up much of what each fighter said occurred in the wake of their UFC on ESPN+ 17 no contest from Saturday in Mexico. But the video also shows Stephens calling Rodriguez a gay slur, and Rodriguez throwing that same slur right back.

In the video from Indiscutido.com, reportedly shot Sunday in the fighter hotel, Rodriguez can be seen and heard asking Stephens "What happened?" in their fight the night before.

In the featherweight main event at Mexico City Arena, Rodriguez (11-2 MMA, 7-1 UFC) reached out with an open hand and caught Stephens (28-16 MMA, 15-15 UFC) in the eyes. His left eye was closed badly enough that it took the cageside doctor several seconds to get his eyelid open to inspect any possible damage to the eye itself. And when he determined Stephens could not safely keep that eye open to continue the fight, the bout was waved off - after just 15 seconds.

The crowd response was one of the ugliest fan incidents in recent UFC memory. Beer cups, bottles and other debris quickly rained down on the cage, and while Stephens was escorted off the arena floor by several security members, he was barraged with more of the same from fans who were shorted a chance to see Rodriguez, from Mexico, in the headliner.

In the aftermath of the fight, Rodriguez cast doubt on whether Stephens was being genuine with the eye poke and said he wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, while also calling into question the possibility his opponent might have been faking it.

That didn't sit well with Stephens, and that appears to have been at the heart of the Sunday altercation in the hotel.

After Rodriguez approached Stephens and asked him what happened in the fight, Stephens quickly shoved him - which he admitted Monday to ESPN.com.

While people in the lobby quickly got between the two and Stephens started to walk away, Rodriguez told Stephens, "You're going to have to live with that for the rest of your (expletive) life," again implying Stephens faked the eye injury.

When Stephens told Rodriguez to call UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby to "run it back" with a rematch, Rodriguez said, "Run it back - I won yesterday."

With hotel security starting to intervene, Stephens yelled back to Rodriguez, "You poked me in the eye, (expletive)," to which Rodriguez responded by calling Stephens the same gay slur.

The video ends with the two fighters walking away in opposite directions, announcing to the other that they'll see each other soon.

After he left the arena, Stephens was taken to a local hospital in Mexico City for examination. He told ESPN there was no serious eye injury or permanent damage, and he wants to schedule a rematch with Rodriguez at one of several dates on the UFC's calendar in the final three months of the year.

Rodriguez went on the ESPN+ post-fight show and started down the path that ultimately led to the tension in the hotel lobby.

"My family came here, all my friends came here, and you always have to give the benefit of the doubt to your opponent," Rodriguez said on the show. "You don't know how he's feeling. But he's the only one who is going to have to live with that in his mind for the rest of his life if it was a lie."

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