Despite lots of drama and uncertainty after the last blow was thrown Saturday in Mexico City, the UFC main event contest between Yair Rodriguez and Jeremy Stephens was technically over just 15 seconds after it began. The two faced-off and exchanged blows briefly before Rodriguez followed up a kick of his by raking the eyes of Stephens with his left hand.
Stephens immediately reacted to the banned eye-gouge, and referee Herb Dean stepped in to halt the fight and look Stephens over. The fight would never re-start.
Dean calmly and sagely instructed Stephens to take time to let his eye relax a bit before attempting to open it and having doctors look at it, telling him he had five minutes to attempt to recover from the illegal move after “Lil Heathen” told the official that Rodriguez had “got me good.”
Dean also took control when the cageside physician entered, and let the doctor know that he recommended that Stephens be given a full five minutes to attempt to open his eye for examination, unless the doctor believed the fighter needed immediate attention.
After Stephens was unable to open his eye on his own even after all that time had elapsed, Dean called the fight. The bout was officially ruled a no-contest, and not a disqualification, despite the fight being ended by a disallowed move on Rodriguez’s part.
“It’s been five minutes. It’s done. If he can’t open his eye,” Dean could be heard telling the doctor, at the time.
“Time to call it.”
As Dean waved off the bout, fans began to throw trash into the cage. As Stephens was walked off of the floor, still partially blinded after being fouled, members of the crowd continued to hurl trash at him.
Rodriguez, who Stephens had taunted as an unmanly fighter leading up to the bout, was livid as well. Eventually, he calmed himself in time for a post-fight interview.
“Forgive me,” he said.
“It’s not Jeremy’s fault, either. I’ve got to give him the benefit of the doubt ... I worked hard, very hard for this fight.
“The only thing I can do is ask for your forgiveness and promise to be back, hard, and soon. Jeremy, I’m sorry. It wasn’t my intention.”
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