At UFC 157 on Saturday, featherweights Dennis Bermudez and Matt Grice waged a three-round battle that left both men dazed after the fight but obviously happy with what was clearly an early Fight of the Night candidate.
Though the bout could have very reasonably been scored a draw, Bermudez (10-3) outslugged Grice (5-5) down the stretch to take a split-decision victory.
What we'll remember about this fight
It was a major battle that could have been stopped on multiple occasions. In the first round, Grice collapsed Bermudez with a left hook, but Herb Dean let them continue. The carnage continued in the second, with Grice landing strong hooks and jabs in a back-and-forth contest.
In the third round, Bermudez, who was probably losing the fight at that point, put Grice on skates with monstrous uppercuts and nonstop aggression. At moments, Grice appeared literally out on his feet. A draw based on a 10-9, 10-9, 8-10 rationale was entirely possible, but the judges ruled that Bermudez did just enough. Ultimately, though, the greatest moment of the fight was Grice's big left hook in the opening frame.
What we learned about Dennis Bermudez
We learned that he doesn't gas out very easily. That muscular frame and go-for-broke style might suggest otherwise, but Bermudez was able to dig deep in the final round and outlast a wobbly Grice.
What we learned about Matt Grice
The 31-year-old is still improving in the sport. Grice's left hook is a dangerous weapon, but he used a stiff jab and kept good distance throughout.
His takedowns could use some work, though.
In the first round he inadvertently pulled Bermudez into a mount position (which Bermudez happily took advantage of) and was stuffed on a few other attempts throughout the fight.
What's next for Bermudez
The featherweight division is deep, but it's kind of a morass after the top 10 or so. If Bermudez can put a solid streak together by beating someone like Rony Jason, he could be poised to pull his way out of the muck.
What's next for Grice
I'd be interested in a fight with Rodrigo Damm.