Yair Rodriguez takes on Jeremy Stephens at the main event of UFC Fight Night 159 at the Mexico City Arena in Mexico City.
Yair Rodriguez was the winner of The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America contest in 2014 and has been fighting in the promotion since that victory. El Pantera is ranked 7th in the official UFC featherweight rankings and he is a three-time winner of the Fight of the Night and also a three-time awardee of Performance of the Night honors in the UFC.
Rodriguez is 26 years old and he stands 5-10 with a reach of 71 inches. El Pantera has a background in Muay Thai, Taekwondo and submission wrestling. He has a record of 11-2 with four knockouts and two submission victories. After suffering his first UFC loss, a knockout to Frankie Edgar in May 2017, he bounced back with a sensational knockout win over Chan Sung Jung on November 2018.
Rodriguez only fought one-time last year as he suffered an injury which canceled his bout against Zabit Magdomedsharipov. El Pantera is athletic and can hit with a variety of strikes. He can be wild at times and doesn’t have a very solid defense. Three out of his last four wins have been by knockout.
Odds were taken from Titan Bet as of 9/02/19
Jeremy Stephens is ranked next to Yair Rodriguez in the UFC rankings at #8 in the featherweight division. He has been in the UFC since 2007 but has never fought for the title. He is known as a knockout artist but he also has a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He is tied with the great Anderson Silva with a record 18 UFC knockouts and is a three-time Knockout of the Night winner.
Known as Li’l Heathen, Stephens has a reach of 71 inches and stands at 5-8 ½. The 33-year-old from San Diego County in California has a professional record of 29-19 with 19 knockouts and two submission wins. Stephens is coming off back to back losses and he has four losses in his last seven fights.
Stephens has been hit and misses his entire career but what makes him dangerous in any fight is that he has tremendous knockout power and he can put anyone in this division to sleep. He is an excellent striker who also has a good takedown game. He is no longer in his prime and isn’t as quick as he was before but is always a threat because of his knockout power.
This is a true even fight and the MMA betting gods agree, and the odds are proof of that. Yair Rodriguez though is coming off a spectacular knockout win over Chan Sung Jung on November 2018. That victory earned Knockout of the Year honors for El Pantera who has won nine out of his last 10 fights. Since this fight is in Mexico, Rodriguez will be fighting in front of his countrymen and that should give him an extra boost.
On the other hand, Jeremy Stephens is coming off back to back losses to Jose Aldo And Zabit Magdomedsharipov so he’s in a tough spot here really because a loss could put his UFC career hanging in the balance. The pressure is on Li’l Heathen to win and El Pantera is no easy prey. Stephens has true knockout power and he can knock out anyone in his division. He also has underrated wrestling and has a very efficient takedown game.
Rodriguez isn’t as good on the ground as Stephens is and the Mexican isn’t as powerful with his hands. However, El Pantera is a unique striker who pressures his opponents with a variety of strikes. Watch out for his spinning attacks as it has ended several of his fights. Rodriguez is much faster, quicker and agile than Stephens and I think that will be to his advantage here.
Stephens will go for the kill right from the get-go and I think Rodriguez will try to keep his distance and then attack in spurts. Stephens is the better fighter overall but I think Rodriguez’s youth and athleticism are going to take over here. I think Rodriguez has a lot of holes in his defense but he has enough in his bag to frustrate Stephens. I’m picking Yair Rodriguez to beat Jeremy Stephens by decisions. Prediction: Yair Rodriguez