Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight scrappers Dennis Bermudez and Andre Fili will collide this Saturday (Jan. 27, 2018) at UFC on FOX 27 inside Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Things have gotten a bit rough for Bermudez as of late. Since his seven-fight win streak ended in 2014, Bermudez has struggled to win consistently. Admittedly, his losses come to members of the Top 10, but Bermudez nevertheless finds himself in need of a victory to get back on track. Meanwhile, Fili has alternated wins and losses since joining UFC in 2013. Similar to his opponent, Fili’s recent defeats come to very talented athletes, though he enters this bout on the heels of a strong — if somewhat controversial because of the presence of one Conor McGregor — victory over Artem Lobov.
Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Max Holloway (UFC 160), Clay Guida (UFC on FOX 12), Tatsuya Kawajiri (UFC Fight Night 83), Rony Jason (UFC Fight Night 92)
Key Losses: Chan Sung Jung (UFC Fight Night 104), Ricardo Lamas (UFC 180), Jeremy Stephens (UFC 189), Darren Elkins (UFC on FOX 27)
Keys to Victory: Bermudez very much fits the classic wrestle-boxer mold. He has a mean right hand and heavy low kick, using those tools to back up his opponent, work inside and land takedowns.
Opposite an opponent with an eight-inch reach advantage, closing the distance will be important. Last time out, Fili did well to keep his shorter foe at the edge of his jabs and kicks, and Bermudez doesn’t want to absorb damage from a range at which he cannot fire back. At the same time, he can rush in without moving his head. That’s proven a struggle in the past, but Bermudez can switch up his approach by trying to shoot into the clinch. Long range shots are unlikely to get Fili to the mat, but they can get Bermudez into a distance where his clubbing hooks will be quite effective.
In addition, Bermudez pushes a pretty ridiculous pace. If he can get inside and grind for takedowns, he should have an easier time closing range in the future.
Key Wins: Hacran Dias (UFC Fight Night 96), Gabriel Benitiz (TUF Latin American 2 Finale), Felipe Arantes (UFC 179)
Key Losses: Max Holloway (UFC 172), Calvin Kattar (UFC 214), Yair Rodriguez (UFC 197)
Keys to Victory: A rangy kickboxer with knockout power and a surprising takedown game, Fili has shown better skills than his UFC record would imply. Once again, Fili will step up on short-notice in attempt to knock off a ranked fighter, similar to how he dispatched of Dias.
Luckily, the style match seems to favor Fili a bit. He has a significant size advantage in his corner, and Fili has never been an easy fighter to take down. Furthermore, Team Alpha Male is filled to the brim with 5’6” wrestlers who love the right hand, so Fili should have a bit of a read on his foe already.
Early on, the obvious gameplan is the aforementioned jab-and-kick strategy Fili has employed recently. Stinging his foe with a hard jab is great, however, the real goal of those strikes is to draw a reaching counter from Bermudez. “The Menace” has been smashed by power shots while trying to move forward multiple times, and timing him on the way in is Fili’s best chance of landing a fight-ending blow.
Bottom Line: It’s a battle for a spot in the rankings, and it should be an absolute firefight.
This is a must-win fight for Bermudez, who’s looking to avoid a three-fight losing streak. His performances haven’t necessarily declined — he very nearly interrupted Darren Elkins’ win streak — but losing that many fights will see him slide down the rankings. Alternatively, a victory returns him to the win column, and there are still many exciting potential bouts for Bermudez against ranked foes, be they fellow veterans or up-and-comers.
As for Fili, the goal is definitely to regain his spot in the rankings. Bermudez is a respected name who is proven against high-level competition, but he also has flaws that make him the perfect opponent for this type of short-notice opportunity. With a win, Fili has won three of four over some solid competition, which will go a long way in solidifying his place in the top-tier of the division. That said, opportunities like this are difficult to come by, meaning it may be a little while before Fili earns another ranked foe if he comes up short.
At UFC on FOX 27, Dennis Bermudez and Andre Fili will go to war in the co-main event. Which fighter will have his hand raised?