The four weeks that have elapsed since Jeremy Stephens and Yair Rodriguez first stepped into the cage have done nothing to simmer the boiling feud between the UFC featherweight contenders.
In fact, things have only gotten worse heading into the rematch on Friday night’s UFC on ESPN 6 event in Boston.
“I feel good,” Stephens told reporters at open workouts this week. “Cool as a cucumber. Calm like a bomb. Ready to go off. I’m gonna kill this kid. If he don’t die, it don’t count. That’s what I’m thinking.”
The feud between them was ignited when their first meeting ended in a no-contest after just 15 seconds due to an accidental eye poke back on Sept. 21 in Mexico City. Rodriguez, and the capacity crowd based on their reaction, believed Stephens played up the damage to get the fight stopped. The fighters got into a scuffle in the lobby of the hotel later in the evening, and a rematch was booked for Friday night.
Rodriguez found the comments troubling.
“I think everybody has their own battles to deal with,” he said of Stephens. “If he thinks that way, then God bless him, bro, because he’s in the deep (expletive) right here. I think he already has a lot of problems in his life and stuff that he has to deal with that I don’t even want to really keep on pushing too much into his head. I want him fresh for this fight because he’s a tough opponent and I don’t want him to be weak. He’s just showing me that he’s weak, and I want him fresh.”
The rematch is part of a main card, headlined by a light heavyweight bout between undefeated contender Dominick Reyes and former middleweight champ Chris Weidman, airing at 6 p.m. on ESPN.
Former NFL star Greg Hardy is also on the card in a heavyweight bout against unheralded Ben Sosoli. Hardy is 5-1 as a pro and has won his last two fights by first-round knockout.
Ladd loses appeal
UFC women’s bantamweight contender Aspen Ladd was denied by the California State Athletic Commission in her bid to have her 16-second knockout loss to Germaine de Randamie in July overturned on the basis of gender discrimination.
Ladd argued referee Herb Dean stopped the fight much sooner than he would have had a male been in a similar situation in the cage.
Dean, one of the most experienced officials in the sport, attended the hearing and testified he would have made the same ruling regardless of gender.
It was the first loss of Ladd’s career and likely cost her a chance to fight for the title. She is scheduled to return to action against Yana Kunitskaya on Dec. 7 at UFC on ESPN 7 in Washington, D.C.
Jon Jones’ financial situation ‘unbelievable’
UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones took exception to a report this week that he recently settled massive tax debts at the city, state and federal level.
A report by Bloody Elbow showed Jones paid off $1.5 million in liens covering tax years dating to 2014.
“Whoever wrote that article doesn’t know what they’re talking about,” Jones said in a video posted on Instagram. “Financial situation is unbelievable and I’m not even trying to brag. I’ve made millions and millions of dollars this year, and I’ve paid millions of dollars in taxes, which I am all caught up on.”
Jones also plead no contest this week to a disorderly conduct charge in New Mexico, stemming from an allegation made by a strip club waitress in April. He received a 90-day deferred sentence and must avoid violating the law, consuming alcohol or drugs, or returning to the scene during that time.
Prominent MMA manager Ali Abdelaziz has been asked to stay away from Professional Fighters League events pending a resolution of a legal case against him for allegedly assaulting a fellow manager at a PFL event last week at Mandalay Bay.
“At league direction, Ali Abdelaziz will not be attending upcoming postseason events,” the organization said in a statement. “Given the fact this is a legal matter, the league has no further comment at this time.”
Abdelaziz was cited by Metro for striking Abe Kawa with a closed fist in a VIP seating area.