EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Dennis Bermudez’s superior wrestling – and a chin made of granite – helped him overcome a game Pablo Garza to win his first official UFC fight to open the FUEL telecast of the UFC on FOX 3 undercard. The Lindenhurst, N.Y., resident and runner up in The Ultimate Fighter Season 14’s flyweight bracket scored four takedowns in the first two rounds and nearly finished Garza with a rear-naked choke in the final minute of the third to earn a unanimous decision victory (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
Besides the ‘W’ Bermudez (9-3) took home stitches in his bottom lip as a souvenir. Garza panted Bermudez with two kicks to the face that would have turned out a lesser opponent’s lights.
“I was thinking, ‘What just happened? Can I get up? Am I OK? I’ve got this ability you can say just to get knocked down or black out and just keep moving, just keep going whether I know what’s going on or not,” Bermudez told SBNation New York. “That got showcased tonight – unfortunately!”
Bermudez escaped a triangle choke in the first and later shook off two swift kicks to the face to take control of the bout with his smothering wrestling ability.
With nearly a minute left in the second, Bermudez executed a bodyslam that stunned Garza (12-3). While growing up, Bermudez studied Quinton “Rampage” Jackson’s vicious slams and wondered why it was a part of his game. To get the lanky 6-1 Garza off his vertical base, driving him down hard was a critical component to his strategy.
“We’re trying to take his air away and do a little ground and pound,” Bermudez said.
Following the loss to Diego Brando in The Ultimate Finale, Bermudez was tempted to take some time off. Instead, he returned to to Island MMA and hit the weights hard. He came back bigger and leaner for the weight class. “I might have been in the best shape of my life in terms of vascular, definition and strength,” he said. Until the next fight, Bermudez plans on spending the summer boogie boarding at Jones Beach and Long Beach. Once he signs off on a new opponent, the new goal is to not let him see the judges, and use another win to set himself up for redemption and a rematch with Brando.
“I’ll see him down the road, for sure,” Bermudez said.
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