Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Thursday, July 24, 2014 | 2 a.m.
UFC on Fox 12 Road To The Octagon
The sports scientists who monitor Dennis Bermudez’s training marveled at the UFC featherweight’s progression.
The 27-year-old from Long Island, N.Y., began visiting a human performance lab at Cal State Fullerton University, as shown on the UFC’s latest “Road to the Octagon" television show, periodically two fights ago. Kinesiology professors put Bermudez through a series of exercises that measure everything from his grip and punching power to his vertical jump and mobility.
On his latest visit to the campus, program head Andy Galpin and his team informed Bermudez that his numbers improved drastically across the board.
“They said it was pretty crazy,” Bermudez reported. “They said I was doing everything right.”
Bermudez came away relieved that someone was taking notice. Many have inexplicably overlooked “The Menace” through his first two years in the world’s biggest mixed martial arts promotion.
Bermudez rides one of history’s quietest six-fight winning streaks into a bout against Clay Guida at UFC on Fox 12 on Saturday in San Jose, Calif. The third-highest fight billed on the card marks the first time Bermudez has ever appeared on the main portion of a major UFC event.
“Some people have gotten the opportunities sooner,” Bermudez said. “But I’ve just gradually been getting better each fight, and now I’m definitely ready for it.”
Guida’s reputation in the UFC might outweigh all of Bermudez’s other opponents combined. The former lightweight holds victories over luminaries such as current UFC champion Anthony Pettis and PRIDE legend Takanori Gomi.
Guida had already reached stardom with wild fights against the likes of Nate Diaz and Diego Sanchez before Bermudez ever decided to pursue MMA professionally.
“He would go out there, throw crazy punches, keep moving and get all bloodied up,” Bermudez said. “He was definitely entertaining.”
The few dedicated fans who have noticed Bermudez over the past couple of years might describe him the same way. His most memorable performance came last year in a split-decision victory over Matt Grice at UFC 157 that went down as one of the Fights of the Year.
“My most fun fight to watch was the Matt Grice fight but, in terms of strategy and how I fought, I think the last one was the best,” Bermudez said. “I have kept improving.”
Bermudez’s last fight, at UFC 171 in March, featured his first knockout in the octagon as he finished Jimy Hettes in the third round. Bermudez believed it helped finally set him apart from his only UFC loss, a first-round submission setback to Diego Brandao in 2011.
Bermudez used to run into casual fans who would apologize for the Brandao loss in “The Ultimate Fighter” 14 finale without realizing he was on a subsequent winning streak. It took five victories for that talk to subside.
“The only time I’ll see it now is on blogs or something where people are talking about Diego Brandao,” Bermudez said. “I see where people say, ‘Dennis would smash him now,’ or something like that.”
Bermudez feels he can smash anyone at his weight class. He thinks a win over Guida would entitle him to a championship bout against Jose Aldo, but he also wouldn’t mind fighting once more to prove it.
He has the statistics to illuminate the advancements he knows he’s making.
“We test how flexible or mobile I am, and it may be X, Y or Z before camp,” Bermudez said. “Then I go back to New York, come back right before the fight and my numbers have improved for the better. It makes me that much more confident.”