In one of the best fights on the UFC 160 undercard, featherweight Dennis Bermudez used takedowns and some big power shots to punish Max Holloway and score a split-decision victory on Saturday.
For Bermudez (11-3), the win was his fourth straight. For 21-year-old Holloway (7-2), the youngest fighter in the UFC, it was only his second UFC defeat.
Both men fought well, and the decision may spark controversy among fans. Holloway appeared to land more strikes than Bermudez, despite doing less damage. It was a close fight, and both men acquitted themselves well.
What we'll remember about this fight
We'll remember Holloway's game plan. He used his range and a surprisingly good ground game to weather the Bermudez storm. But the raw power and athleticism of Bermudez won the day.
What we learned about Max Holloway
Holloway has much better ground skills than I initially suspected. Bermudez, a ground-and-pound specialist, was able to take Holloway down, but he couldn't hold him there. With his long limbs, Holloway was able to employ a strong and limber guard to keep Bermudez at bay or simply return to his feet. I was sure Bermudez would pin him to the mat and pound him out. I was wrong.
What we learned about Dennis Bermudez
He has the power—as evidenced by the hematoma he raised on Holloway's dome despite landing relatively few big blows—but wasn't able to adjust to Holloway's game plan. Holloway used his long reach to chip away at Bermudez from range and comported himself well on the ground. But credit Bermudez: He kept plugging away and did enough damage, especially at the end of the fight, to convince the judges that he was the better fighter.
What's next for Holloway
Assuming Jimy Hettes can return from his injury some time this year, the young judoka would help separate wheat from chaff in the younger end of the featherweight pool.
What's next for Bermudez
It's time for a bump up in competition. I'd suggest Steven Siler.