Season 14 of "The Ultimate Fighter" opened Wednesday night with elimination bouts to get into the house. Nothing original there -- except for the venue. UFC moved the fights out its training center and into the events center at Mandalay Bay.
That didn't seem to bother Dennis Bermudez, a Massapequa resident who trains at Long Island MMA in Lindenhurst.
“Maybe there being no people in there made it seem more hollow and smaller because you couldn’t scale people," Bermudez told Newsday." Or maybe it was just I was in television, I was on a mission, who cares how big this place is, I know how big this ring is. I’m not fighting in this whole stadium, I’m fighting in this cage.”
Bermudez, a featherweight, won by second-round TKO over Jimmie Rivera to get into the house and be a real contestant on "TUF 14," the show's last on Spike. Rivera got the better of Bermudez in the first round with his striking. Both fighters impressed UFC president Dana White and this year's coaches Jason "Mayhem" Miller and Michael Bisping.
In the second round, Bermudez knocked Rivera to the ground with a left hook, then used his wrestling and jiu-jitsu to flatten out his opponent and whail away until the referee stopped the bout.
“My sense of urgency didn’t start until the second round," Bermudez said. "My first round, I was pretty flat. I knew it was a big deal, but part of me still felt like if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out.”