Dennis Bermudez thrilled fans in his last MMA fight, a haymaker heaven against Matt Grice complete with knockdowns, whiplash neck turns and bodies bouncing off the cage.
It earned the Long Island-based UFC featherweight a sweet $50,000 bonus check for fight of the night. But Bermudez isn't exactly looking for a rerun inside the cage Saturday when he fights Max Holloway at UFC 160 in Las Vegas. The prelim bout will air on FX prior to the pay-per-view main card headlined by heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez vs. Antonio Silva.
"Fight of the night is great and all," Bermudez said, "but when you get fight of the night, that usually means you got bumped up, you got some licks."
That certainly was the case for both Bermudez and Grice that night in February. Bermudez connected on 181 of 277 strikes (65.3 percent). Grice landed 91 of 171 strikes (53.2 percent).
There's an old adage that you're only as good as your last fight. If that were true, Bermudez would be walking to the cage this Saturday with gold around his waist.
The fight didn't catapult Bermudez (11-3, 3-1 UFC), winner of three straight, into the top 10 rankings. But it certainly boosted his profile in the division, in the company and in the minds of those who consume the sport. And it all happened on the same night Ronda Rousey headlined the UFC 157 pay-per-view in the promotion's first women's MMA bout.
"That was a pretty stacked card, and me and Grice stuck out on the card," Bermudez said. "Everything costs something. For that fight, that's what it cost."
Bermudez vs. Grice will be discussed all year, as it was that night, as a Fight of the Year candidate. It has that type of staying power -- in those types of discussions, though. Not so in the mind of Bermudez.
"A lot of people are still hyped about it," said Bermudez, who trains both at Long Island MMA in Farmingdale with Greg DePasquale and at Bellmore Kickboxing Academy with Keith Trimble. "I'm totally focused on this fight."
Bermudez became a father for the first time on April 4 when he and girlfriend Lindsey Kuhn welcomed their son, Maddox. But not before he put in work on the roads around Wantagh and Massapequa with a half-marathon with training partner Gregor Gillespie.
Bermudez said he brought Kuhn to the hospital that morning to be induced, and both she and the medical staff said he could leave to train for a few hours before returning for Maddox's birth.
"She's on board with what we're trying to do here," Bermudez said. "We're trying for a world title. After this fight, I'm going to have to do some catching up."