Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight standouts Dennis Bermudez and Jeremy Stephens went for the finish at UFC 189 inside MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Bermudez may have lost his bout with Ricardo Lamas prior to this match up, but he had still proven himself a top fighter in the fights prior. For him, this bout was simply about getting back into the win column.
Having lost his last two bouts via decision to some of the division's best, it was highly important for Stephens to get the win here. While his losses were not blowouts or against scrubs, a three fight losing streak is never a safe idea in the UFC.
Luckily, he avoided that fight.
Stephens started the bout by defending a few nice takedown attempts, though Bermudez followed up with some heavy punches that split his opponent open. After a couple straight minutes of defending shots against the fence, "Lil Heathen" was finally dragged down to the mat.
From top position, Bermudez landed some nice ground strikes and looked to move into back mount. Stephens eventually managed to scramble back to his feet, but Bermudez gave him little space. Pressuring until the end of the round, Bermudez controlled and contained the brawler until the end of the round.
It was clearly his round.
Stephens landed some heavy low kicks to start the second round. Then, he absolutely rocked Bermudez with a hammer of a punch, which sent Bermudez down to the mat hard. Bermudez recovered well, but the combined damage to his leg and face clearly took an effect.
For the next minute or so, Stephens lit his opponent up with big punches that sent his opponent spinning. However, Bermudez found his second wind and began to land nice shots of his own to match his opponent.
While Bermudez did a decent job returning fire late, Stephens still likely earned the round.
Nonetheless, the judges' scorecards were soon made irrelevant. Not long into the round, Bermudez pushed forward directly into a vicious jump knee from Stephens. Bermudez crumpled to the mat, and quite a few nasty punches sealed the deal.
This was a huge victory for Stephens, particularly after his pair of losses. Bermudez was ranked in the top 10 and had quite a win streak going before his last match, and he was well-regarded as one of the best featherweight up-and-comers around.
Stephens' big key here was that he never stopped attacking. Even after a very tough opening round, Stephens continued to throw heavy counter punches in an attempt to time his opponent.
Eventually, it worked out in violent fashion.
Additionally, this fight showed Stephens' continued improvements to his Muay Thai. Since moving to Alliance MMA, Stephens' kicks and stance have changed quite a bit. In this fight, he injured Bermudez's knee and slowed him down, which undoubtedly made the counters come easier.
Following this win, Stephens should scrap with one of the grinders near his current ranking, such as Hacran Dias. Unfortunately, most of the men ranked above Stephens are booked or have already beaten him.
This loss once against demonstrated Bermudez's big weakness: he's simply too hittable. All the offensive components to his game are there -- he can punch hard, land nasty low kicks, and grind for days -- but he's simply easy to catch coming in.
Now, that's two straight losses in a row due to that flaw.
Hopefully, Bermudez takes some time to improve on that aspect of his game. When he returns to the cage, a match with Dennis Siver could make sense.
Last night, Jeremy Stephens viciously knocked Dennis Bermudez. Where will "Lil Heathen" go from here?
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