Dennis Bermudez stood at the center of the cage after his win over Tatsuya Kawajiri last February and apologized to the Pittsburgh crowd.
It was his first fight to go the distance since 2013, and Bermudez felt he owed the fans more.
“I’m there to win a fight,” Bermudez said. “But people, when they see a Dennis Bermudez fight on a card, get excited for a high-pace, high-intensity fight.”
Lindenhurst’s Bermudez (15-5, 8-3 UFC) will look to re-establish that reputation as one of the UFC’s most exciting featherweights in the co-main event against Rony Jason (14-5, 4-2, 1 no contest) on Saturday night at UFC Fight Night 92 in Salt Lake City.
In his last fight, Bermudez took a unanimous decision over Kawajiri by outgrappling his opponent for the final 10 minutes after dropping the first round on all three scorecards.
It wasn’t the result he was used to producing, but it was the result Bermudez needed. He was riding his first UFC losing streak entering the fight, and after dealing with illness and injuries in the months prior, he knew it was a must-win against a tricky opponent.
“I wasn’t trying to go maybe for the kill and put my neck out there and make myself vulnerable for a stupid knockout or something like that.” Bermudez said. “In that fight, I was just a little more cautious. And the dude’s a veteran, he’s been fighting forever, he’s fighting on this card as well. He’s seen some things that I probably haven’t in the Octagon and does some things I haven’t done.”
The win solidified Bermudez’s place in the featherweight rankings and set him up for a marquee opponent, but with most top 145-pounders booked, No. 8 Bermudez is taking on unranked Jason to stay busy and maintain his income while waiting for a big fight.
It may be a step down in competition on paper, but Bermudez isn’t finding it difficult to psych himself up for the bout.
“A lot of people have been asking me, Rony Jason, he’s not a ranked opponent, what have you been doing to try to make yourself excited for this fight?” Bermudez said. “And it’s not the opponent, it’s my opportunity to show everybody what I’ve been working on.”
With the pressure of the losing streak off and the benefit of a healthy fight camp, Bermudez has some new weapons he’s ready to show off.
“We’re going to come after it Saturday night,” Bermudez said. “We have some new things we’ve been working on in the striking department and I’m actually excited to showcase it.”
And if all goes to plan, he’ll have no need to apologize to the Salt Lake City crowd.
“When I go in there and step into the Octagon, I’m not thinking ‘let’s go in there and put on this crazy, crazy fight,’” Bermudez said. “I just go out there and win and it’s usually pretty exciting.”