Yair Rodriguez says he gives Jeremy Stephens “the benefit of the doubt” for eye poke

Yair Rodriguez

UFC featherweight contender Yair Rodriguez says he gives Jeremy Stephens “the benefit of a doubt” after an eye poked ended the UFC Mexico city main event.

Rodriguez spoke to reporters following the event and was asked if he thought Stephens was legitimately injured or if he was faking it. Rodriguez said he would give his opponent the benefit of the doubt about the fight-ending injury.

“I’m just going to give the benefit of the doubt to Jeremy Stephens. The only one who has to live with the doubt in the mind is him, only him. He’s the only one who knows how it feels,” Rodriguez said.

“Pantera” admitted that he hasn’t been poked in the eye before in a fight. But he did have his eye closed and lost by doctor stoppage TKO to Frankie Edgar back in 2017, and he compared this situation to that one.

“I’ve never been poked in the eye in a fight. But I have had a really bad eye. In the Frankie Edgar fight my eye was completely close, I couldn’t see nothing, but I was willing to keep on going,” Rodriguez said. “But not everybody’s the same, I don’t know what he was feeling. So the complete benefit of the doubt to Jeremy Stephens. Let’s see what happens. It’s sad.”

In the end, Rodriguez is very sorry what happened.

“I’m sorry about what happened. It wasn’t my intention to poke his eye. Again, all the benefit of the doubt to Jeremy Stephens,” Rodriguez said.

The UFC may end up booking a rematch between these two, but there’s a chance both fighters could be given different opponents for their next fight depending on how severe Stephens’ injury ends up being.

Do you agree with Yair Rodriguez that Jeremy Stephens should be given the benefit of the doubt for the eye poke that ended the UFC Mexico City card early?