While his Tuesday morning tone was one of frustration and palpable eagerness to make Rodriguez pay for the things he’s said about him, the veteran contender understands that he needs to contain those emotions in order to give himself the best chance to achieve the outcome he’s looking for on Friday night at TD Garden Arena.
“I stay cool, calm like a bomb, and when it’s my time to go off, it’s all good,” Stephens said when asked about channeling the obvious animosity he feels towards Rodriguez into useful energy on fight night. “When I fight and do my thing — when I let my hands go, my kicks, my knees; when I’m being me and I go in there and do what I do best, I put people to sleep and I’m the best fighter in the world.”
After being allotted 25 minutes of cage time for their first encounter, being booked in the co-main event means that Stephens and Rodriguez now have a maximum of 15 minutes available to them to settle their differences, though the veteran has no intention of needing the full time.
“It’s not going to last 15 minutes,” he said flatly. “I’m looking to turn it around and put him out within 15 seconds.
“It’s not going to be where he sneaks out a decision or is running around— I’m going to be throwing everything with bad intentions. Everything I throw is going to be vicious; it’s going to be accurate, deadly and it’s going to be to put his lights out, no matter what it is. Whether it’s a kick or a jab or whatever it may be, it’s going to be thrown with bad intentions and designed to take Yair’s head off.
“I feel like this kid has backed himself into a corner and I can’t wait to put his lights out.”