Booing at MMA events is nothing new, with fans at UFC events always forthright in their views as they cheer or jeer referee interventions, judges’ decisions and fighter fouls.
But in Mexico City on Saturday night, things got ugly, quickly.
That’s because the locals were less than happy with the main event clash as Mexican star Yair Rodriguez and American contender Jeremy Stephens went toe to toe in a bout that lasted just 15 seconds.
— Eric Gomez (@EricGomez86) September 22, 2019
But there was no knockout or submission to cause the early finish. Instead, there was an eye poke and a no-contest, and the fans didn’t like it one bit.
Rodriguez was the guilty party, as he caught Stephens in the eye with an open hand as a finger made contact with the American’s eye.
The gritty, tough American took all five minutes of the allowable injury time to try to recover, but at the end of the period, the bout was waved off and, due to the early nature of the injury and the fact that the move was declared accidental, the bout was declared a no-contest.
The Mexican fans were NOT happy, and showered the cage with bottles and other objects as they made clear their displeasure.
“I apologize a great deal,” said Rodriguez.
“We both trained very hard for this fight. Everyone spent a lot of money to come down and see us compete and support us. I feel very bad about this. Let’s do this again.”
Esparza edges co-main event
Former UFC women’s strawweight champ Carla Esparza also upset the crowd, but for different reasons, as she claimed a majority decision victory over local star Alexa Grasso in the night’s co-main event to cash in for those following our predictions this week.
Esparza was outstruck by her Mexican opponent, but smartly used her wrestling to good effect in the first two rounds. Grasso came on strong in the third, but when the judges’ scores were totalled, it was “The Cookie Monster” who edged it, much to the chagrin of the Mexican crowd.
? By Majority Decision!
— UFC (@ufc) September 22, 2019
Craig delivers submission finish
Our other prediction involved Scotland’s Paul Craig, who delivered on our pre-fight confidence by submitting Brazilian grappler Vinicius Moreira inside the opening round.
Craig looked in superb form as he dominated the Brazilian on the mat. But the win didn’t present itself until the pair returned to their feet after a lengthy grappling exchange. Craig connected with two huge knees that badly rocked Moreira, then unloaded a barrage of punches to his grounded opponent before switching to a rear-naked choke for the win.
THAT'S IT! ?
— UFC Europe (@UFCEurope) September 21, 2019
It was a crucial victory for Craig, and continued his remarkable run of securing Performance of the Night bonuses every time he wins inside the octagon as he banked an additional $50,000 for his efforts.