Yair Rodriguez defeated Jeremy Stephens via unanimous decision in the co-main event of UFC Boston at TD Garden on Friday night.
The bout was a rematch after the previous fight on Sept. 21 ended in a no-contest when Rodriguez poked Stephens in the eye just seconds into the first round.
Rodriguez and Stephens, who are the seventh- and eighth-ranked contenders in the featherweight division, respectively, carried the animosity from the first bout outside of the Octagon, as they nearly came to blows in a hotel lobby and exchanged verbal jabs during interviews leading up to the rematch.
Both fighters came out firing in the second installment, as Stephens met Rodriguez in the center of the Octagon with a flying kick to get things going.
After a close first round, "El Pantera" was able to get Stephens down with a thundering leg kick early in the second, pouncing on the 33-year-old American and delivering a combination that almost ended the fight.
Stephens withstood the barrage, though, and got back to his feet before returning fire during the later stages of the round.
He would go on to dominate most of the third, as he took Rodriguez down and unleashed an onslaught from the top, but he couldn't find the knockout blow.
The two rivals showed respect for one another after the fight, as they embraced before Bruce Buffer announced that all three judges scored the fight 29-28 for Rodriguez, who moves to 7-1 in the UFC (12-2 overall record).