Dennis Bermudez's last fight featured upkicks to the face, punching flurries and monstrous body slams to the delight of the crowd.
An upstate native who relocated to Long Island to develop his mixed martial arts career, Bermudez was left bloodied and bruised with a swollen upper lip that looked like a Botox experiment gone horribly wrong.
And he was the winner of that fight last May in New Jersey.
“The fight was actually more entertaining watching it than being in it," Bermudez said Thursday ahead of his bout this Saturday against Tommy Hayden at UFC 150 in Denver. "When you're in the fight, you've got a lot of fight running through your blood so you seem kind of slower, and you feel like you're not as fast or strong. Then you watch the video and you're like, 'Dude, I'm really fast and strong."
Bermudez (9-3, 1-1 UFC), who trains at both Long Island MMA in Lindenhurst and Bellmore Kickboxing Academy, has the speed and strength to compete at featherweight. He was an All-American freestyle wrestler in college. He opened his MMA career with seven straight wins and reached the finals of Season 14 of "The Ultimate Fighter."
“In the world, I’m ranked, like, mid-40s," said Bermudez, 25. "But, I think I can fight any of the top 10 guys.”
One fight at a time. Hayden (8-1, 0-1 UFC) is next up for Bermudez. He is a former lightweight fighter who dropped 10 pounds and makes his featherweight debut. Bermudez, too, is a former lightweight fighter but has been at 145 for well more than a year now.
Hayden is a southpaw, the unorthodox stance a first for Bermudez. He did not seemed concerned about facing a left-handed striker.
“When I first started stand-up, my natural instinct was to move left when fighting a guy," Bermudez sad.
Bermudez went to Denver last Thursday, giving him 10 days to adjust to the elevation of the Mile High City. (Fighters typically get into town five days before their fight.) He said he hasn’t felt much of a difference in his stamina since arriving in Denver.
“That excited me,” Bermudez said. “I’ve got a good gas tank and good cardiovascular.”