UFC 157: Dennis Bermudez vs. Matt Grice Makes Early Claim for Fight of the Year

McKinley NobleCorrespondent IFebruary 23, 2013

Dennis Bermudez (left) vs. Matt Grice (right). Photo Credit: UFC
Dennis Bermudez (left) vs. Matt Grice (right). Photo Credit: UFC

It's only February, but UFC featherweights Dennis Bermudez and Matt Grice have given MMA fans an early "Fight of the Year" candidate.

In just 15 minutes, this match could've been stopped four different times.

Early in the first round, Grice flubbed a takedown and found himself on his back, with Bermudez sitting on his chest and blasting him with hard shots to the face.

Somehow, Grice fought back to his feet and turned the whole round on its head by flooring Bermudez with a monstrous left hook.

To put it mildly, Bermudez dropped like a sack of bricks.

For a moment, it looked like he went to sleep as Bermudez's head nearly scrapped the mat, with referee Herb Dean nearly rushing in to save him.

Amazingly, the Long Island MMA wrestler kept his wits about him, although Grice pressured him for the next round-and-a-half.

Going into the third round, it looked like Grice would snatch the win away from Bermudez, much like he did against Leonard Garcia last June.

But then, Bermudez hit his rally.

Trapping Grice against the fence, "Dennis the Menace" hit his opponent with punches, knees, kicks, elbows and just about everything else he could come up with.

Looking closely at the action, it seemed bad for Grice, who seemed to be drowning under the assault.

Even Herb Dean seemed ready for it to end, nearly stepping in twice to rescue Grice, who seemed half-awake throughout the onslaught.

But even though he was unable to match that kind of aggressive volume so late in the fight, the Oklahoma native showed just enough grit to keep going as he flailed desperate punches, shied away from punishment and clinched for everything he was worth.

That whole exchange had the Honda Center crowd on their feet, as both men gamely fought with everything they could muster.

It was one of those fights that had the potential to steal the night away from everyone else on the preliminary card.

Huge momentum shifts, near stoppages, blood, sweat and amazing amounts of violence like that aren't seen often enough to many MMA fans' liking, but Bermudez and Grice definitely delivered in spades on Saturday.


McKinley Noble is an MMA conspiracy theorist and FightFans Radio writer. His work has appeared in GamePro, Macworld and PC World. Talk with him on Twitter.