The UFC returns south of the border next month for a card heavy with fighter from Mexico or with Mexican heritage.
UFC on ESPN+ 17 takes place Sept. 21 at Arena Ciudad de Mexico in Mexico City. The card streams on ESPN+.
In the main event, Mexico’s Yair Rodriguez (11-2 MMA, 7-1 UFC) takes on Jeremy Stephens (28-16 MMA, 15-15 UFC) in a featherweight bout. The co-feature sees Mexico’s Alexa Grasso (11-2 MMA, 3-2 UFC) against inaugural UFC women’s strawweight champion Carla Esparza (14-6 MMA, 5-4 UFC).
Those fighters are front and center on the poster for UFC on ESPN+ 17, which recently was released by the promotion.
Rodriguez got his UFC start by winning “The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America” in 2014, which was the start of six straight wins to open his tenure in the promotion. But at UFC 211 in May 2017, he suffered a TKO loss to former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar for his first setback in four and a half years.
When Rodriguez bounced back, though, he did so in dramatic fashion. In a wild fight against “The Korean Zombie,” Chan Sung Jung, in the UFC Fight Night 139 main event this past November, Rodriguez threw an elbow that knocked Jung out with one second left in the fifth round. The Hail Mary finish earned him a double bonus and got him back in the win column.
Stephens had a three-fight winning streak with victories over former Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez and knockouts of Doo Ho Choi and Josh Emmett in early 2018. But a little more than a year ago, he was knocked out by former featherweight champion Jose Aldo at UFC on FOX 30, then lost a decision to Zabit Magomedsharipov in March for a two-fight skid.
Grasso and Esparza both got back in the win column earlier this year. Grasso outworked Karolina Kowalkiewicz for a decision win at UFC 238 in June in her first fight in 13 months. Esparza took a decision from Virna Jandiroba at UFC on ESPN+ 8 in April to snap a two-fight skid.
Check out the UFC on ESPN+ 17 poster below:
The Blue Corner is MMA Junkie’s blog space. We don’t take it overly serious, and neither should you. If you come complaining to us that something you read here is not hard-hitting news, expect to have the previous sentence repeated in ALL CAPS.