Dennis Bermudez wanted to show mixed martial arts fans that he was better than his previous fight in February.
Sure, he didn’t suffer a first-round knockout this time around, but Saturday night was not what he had in mind.
The Lindenhurst native was defeated by Darren Elkins at UFC on Fox 25 at Nassau Coliseum, losing a grueling 145-pound battle via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).
Bermudez got things going with a few leg kicks as both fighters gauged distance. As the round progressed, Bermudez began to use his punches to open up his grappling. Bermudez shot for a takedown, but was stuffed by Elkins. Bermudez worked against the cage and got back to his feet, but couldn’t shake Elkins as he dragged Bermudez back down while landing knee blows. When they broke, Bermudez began to overthrow his punches a bit. Elkins was ready, ducking a punch and controlling Bermudez in the center of the cage. Bermudez was able to stand up once again, but it wasn’t long before Elkins slammed Bermudez to the canvas.
“The grind is my game, those are the fights I’m going to succeed in,” Elkins said. “It’s not the prettiest stuff sometimes but man, I make it work and I make it work good.”
Bermudez looked to initiate his own wrestling to open the second round, but couldn’t keep Elkins on the canvas. After battling in the clinch, Bermudez started to land some of his strikes, utilizing his punches to open up a takedown against the cage. But Elkins worked his way back up, putting Bermudez back on the defensive. Bermudez eventually shot for another takedown, but Elkins caught Bermudez in a front choke and used the position to earn himself another slam.
In the third, Bermudez tried to put on the pressure in the striking game, using flying knees and big punches, but nothing was landing with significance. Bermudez had Elkins off balance midway through the round and threw a big knee, but missed and lost position, sending the fight back into the clinch. With two minutes remaining, Bermudez looked like he was landing his right hand, but Elkins quickly closed the distance. An Elkins slip seemed to open the door with about a minute remaining, but another Bermudez knee missed. Bermudez put a few combinations together as time ran down, but it wasn’t enough.
“I thought for sure I won the first two rounds, I think he probably won the third round for sure, I don’t know,” Elkins said. “You never know what’s going to happen, the judges are different. But I thought for sure I won the first two rounds so I thought I won the fight, but when they read the score cards I was nervous.”
Bermudez was back in the cage for his first fight since being knocked out in the first round by Chan Sung Jung in February.
Bermudez hoped a victory would put him back in the title picture. He holds a win over current featherweight champion Max Holloway from 2013, but that rematch seems to be some distance away now.
The loss brings Bermudez’s professional record to 16-7 with a 9-5 mark in the UFC. Elkins moves to 23-5 with the victory, his fifth straight.