With bloodstained teeth and a swollen upper lip laced with eight stitches, Dennis Bermudez smiled. Accompanied by a filet mignon-sized knot on his forehead, the Lindenhurst-based MMA fighter felt less pain than his face would suggest.
Ending a three-fight losing streak and picking up his first win in the UFC will do that to a 25-year-old featherweight. Bermudez defeated Pablo Garza by unanimous decision Saturday night at UFC on Fox 3 at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J.
"When I started fighting, I said I'm going to be in the UFC one day," said Bermudez, a Saugerties, N.Y., native who now lives in Massapequa and trains at Long Island MMA. "When I told people that, they said 'Good luck.' Now look at me. With that being said, I'm here to win. I'm not here just to be in the UFC. I'm here to make my name known -- Dennis Bermudez."
Garza (12-3, 2-2 UFC) will certainly remember that name. On at least four occasions, Garza found himself in the air, his 145-pound body wrapped up in the arms of Bermudez only to be thrust to the canvas at a fast and thunderous pace.
Bermudez, who wrestled at Bloomsburg University, needed to get inside to be effective. Besides his wrestling skills, Bermudez faced a seven-inch height disadvantage against the 6-1 Garza. Bermudez was successful on eight of nine takedown attempts against Garza, at least half of which ended with body slams.
"It's gotta be taxing on the brain, like 'This guy is strong,' " said Bermudez (9-3, 1-1). "And that's the point. When I wrestled in college, I tried to get into people's heads and make them not want to fight anymore. Big slams say 'Let's go, I'm here, let's rock and roll.' "
While a slam may let the current opponent know Bermudez is here to fight, MMA fans already know that. He was a finalist on Season 14 of "The Ultimate Fighter," losing by submission to Diego Brandao in December. "These guys that are coming off 'TUF' are going to learn and start working their way up for bigger and bigger fights," UFC president Dana White said. "[Bermudez] looked good. He's a tough kid."
"I just went out there and fought hard and got started," Diaz said. "And I happened to get the win."
Late in the second round, Diaz (16-7) had a one-arm guillotine choke hold on Miller. After repositioning his body to keep Miller in the choke hold and in front of him, Diaz sat back on the canvas, rolled Miller (21-4) end over end and locked in the guillotine.
It was the first time Miller was finished in a fight.