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UFC 189 fight card: Dennis Bermudez vs Jeremy Stephens full fight preview

Dennis Bermudez and Jeremy Stephens will clash this Saturday (July 11, 2015) at UFC 189 inside MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. In a match up of heavy hitters, what adjustments must be made for either man to claim victory? Find out below!

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight veterans Dennis Bermudez and Jeremy Stephens will look to get back into the win column this Saturday (July 11, 2015) at UFC 189 inside MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Prior to his upset loss to Ricardo Lamas, Bermudez was on a serious hot streak, including wins over Max Holloway and Clay Guida. Now, he'll look to get back into the title hunt.

Stephens started out his 145-pound career in a big way, landing him a position in the Top 15. Since then, a pair of competitive losses have pushed him outside the Top 10, and Stephens is itching to get back in.

Let's take a look at the keys to victory for each fighter:

Dennis Bermudez
Record: 14-3
Key Wins: Max Holloway (UFC 160), Clay Guida (UFC on FOX 12), Jimy Hettes (UFC 171)
Key Losses: Ricardo Lamas (UFC 180), Diego Brandao (TUF 14 Finale)
Keys to Victory: Bermudez is quite the physical force and has developed into a very solid wrestle-boxer. While he's still a bit rough around the edges, Bermudez's toughness, rapid improvement and athletic ability have carried him to several victories.

To defeat Stephens, Bermudez needs to rely on his wrestling and conditioning. Despite his growth, Bermudez is still entirely too hittable on his feet, which is a truly terrible trait to test out against one of the division's hardest punchers in "Lil Heathen."

Instead, Bermudez should waste little time in dropping low into a shot. He probably won't finish the initial shot -- Stephens has improved over the years as well -- he can tie up his opponent. When forced to continually wrestle, Stephens' hand speed seems to slow down significantly.

Once that happens, Bermudez is in a good position to capitalize. If Stephens is still able to stuff the shot, Bermudez should be the quicker man, able to bounce in with hard punches and low kicks.

And if the opportunity to finish a takedown arrives, even better, as Bermudez is a monster from top position.


Jeremy Stephens
Record: 23-11
Key Wins: Darren Elkins (UFC on FOX 10), Rony Jason (UFC Fight Night 32)
Key Losses: Cub Swanson (UFC Fight Night 44), Charles Oliveira (TUF 20 Finale)
Keys to Victory: Having made his UFC debut eight years ago at the tender age of 21, Stephens is a refined brawler. He's still got some vicious power punching and aggression, but his striking is far more technical and his overall defensive grappling ability has improved greatly.

In Stephens' bout with Darren Elkins, he did a spectacular job of slowing the pace down, maintaining distance, and utterly shutting down his opponent's attempts to close the distance. While his goal should remain the same -- grappling with Bermudez for an extended amount of time with Bermudez will not work well for him -- but his approach needs to be the opposite.

Against Elkins' mediocre kickboxing and explosiveness, Stephens could get away with sacrificing his movement to remain balanced. That won't work against Bermudez, as Stephens should instead rely on his footwork.

"Lil Heathen" needs to keep plenty of distance between himself and his opponent. On the outside, his kicking ability and overall Muay Thai skills have really improved. With his height and reach advantage, he should be able to damage and out-point his opponent.

Then, when Bermudez inevitably tries to close the distance, Stephens can either look to circle off or counter punch. Between his power, experience, and Bermudez's lack of head movement, Stephens should be able to find plenty of success playing the counter game.

Bottom LIne: Both of these men should be in their prime right now. If they can't go on a title run now or in the near future, odds are they never will.

While Bermudez has certainly improved since his debut, his weaknesses remain. Namely, he's still quite hittable, and his defensive jiu-jitsu leaves something to be desired. Stephens can test at least one of those aspects, and it's up to Bermudez to pass and prove himself a contender.

If Bermudez does lose -- particularly if one of those flaws is the cause -- then he may need to change something up. Otherwise, he'll be destined to hang around the bottom half of the Top 10 rather than among the elite.

This may be Stephens' last chance to become a top 10 fighter. If he loses here, his position as gatekeeper is truly cemented.

On the other hand, Bermudez looked like an absolute killer until he ran into Ricardo Lamas' jab. Lamas is a Top 5 Featherweight, so if Stephens can pull off a similar performance, it will look really good on his record. Plus, he'll take Bermudez's position in the Top 10.

It won't put him in title contention, but it's a solid start.

At UFC 189, Dennis Bermudez and Jeremy Stephens will go to war. Which fighter will earn the victory?

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