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The Ultimate Fighting Championship last visited Mexico in 2017. This year, they are set to return with one of the country’s favorite sons headlining. Yair Rodriguez takes on fellow striker Jeremy Stephens in a thrilling showdown to be held at the Mexico City Arena for UFC Fight Night 159. As fight day draws near, learn more about these exciting featherweights through some of their career-defining numbers.
Age and Overall MMA ExperienceThirty-three-year-old Stephens was born on May 26, 1986, while Rodriguez will turn 27 on Oct. 6. When Rodriguez made his pro debut on Oct. 10, 2011, Stephens was two days removed from his 27th professional fight, which he lost to Anthony Pettis. That was at UFC 136, which marked his 13th Octagon appearance.
Stephens entered the cage for the first time as a pro on Jan. 12, 2005. He currently sports a record of 28-16, with wins over the likes of Gilbert Melendez, Renan Barao and Rafael dos Anjos. The younger Rodriguez, on the other hand, has a record of 11-2, with notable victories over Chang Sung Jung and BJ Penn.
First-Round FinishesEarly in his career, Stephens was notorious for finishing fights early, thanks mostly to his punching power. He had 11 first-round stoppages outside of the UFC and added two more inside the Octagon, victimizing Justin Buchholz and Rony Mariano Bezerra. Rodriguez is not to be left out with three first-round stoppages of his own, all of which occurred outside the UFC.
Wins by KnockoutRodriguez doesn’t quite have the same penchant for stiffening opponents as Stephens does, but he does have knockouts of his own. His thrilling last-second elbow KO of Chang Sung Jung was his fourth overall. Before that, he was able to drop and stop BJ Penn, Andre Fili and Edgar Juarez.
And then there’s Stephens, who holds 19 victories by KO or TKO. That long list of casualties includes Rafael dos Anjos, Dennis Bermudez, Josh Emmett, Doo Ho Choi, Cole Miller, Rony Mariano Bezerra, Justin Buchholz and Marcus Davis. That’s eight finishes by knockout inside the Octagon for the Alliance MMA product.
Wins by SubmissionStephens owns two victories by submission, a triangle choke against Norm Alexander and an armbar against Doug Alcorn. Rodriguez has also notched two submission victories, a triangle choke against Carlos Ricardo and an armbar against Angelo Duarte.
Career LossesIn his third professional fight, Rodriguez was stopped by Luis Roberto Herrera in an event called Mexican Fighter Promotions 13. He then bounced back with an eight-fight winning streak before bowing to Frankie Edgar at UFC 211, which was only his second loss.
Always daring in his approach, the much more experienced Stephens now has 16 defeats. He is on a two-fight skid, having lost to Zabit Magomedsharipov and Jose Aldo in his last two outings. The other UFC fighters who have handed him losses over the years are Renato Carneiro, Frankie Edgar, Max Holloway, Charles Oliveira, Cub Swanson, Yves Edwards, Donald Cerrone, Anthony Pettis, Melvin Guillard, Gleison Tibau, Joe Lauzon, Spencer Fisher and Din Thomas.