2013 was arguably the greatest year of fights in the UFC’s history. Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson put on one of the greatest title fights in history back at UFC 165. Lightweights, Gilbert Melendez and Diego Sanchez, stole the show in an incredible barnburner at UFC 166. Mark Hunt and Antonio Silva left it all on the line in the greatest Heavyweight fight in UFC history back at UFC Fight Night 33. These are but a few of the many spectacular fights of 2013. Most MMA fans and media would agree that the three fights above were among the year’s best. However, one glaring snub from the ‘Fight of the year’ awards is the UFC 157 preliminary bout between Dennis Bermudez and Matt Grice.
It was February 23rd, the night of UFC 157, and the debut of the Women’s Bantamweight division was the hot topic. Ronda Rousey would be making her UFC debut against Liz Carmouche, ringing in a new era for the Ultimate Fighting Championship. The night had a historic feel to it, and the card was stacked. Legendary fighters like Urijah Faber, Dan Henderson, and Lyoto Machida were set to battle on the momentous evening.
Lost in the frenzy was a Featherweight bout between Dennis Bermudez and Matt Grice. At the time, Bermudez had won two in a row after losing the TUF 14 Finale to Diego Brandao. Grice was coming off a unanimous decision victory over Leonard Garcia. Nobody expected the display the two men were about to put on.
The fight began with Grice looking for a trip takedown, but an expert reversal from Bermudez landed him in full mount on top of Grice. Then came the hellacious ground and pound of Dennis Bermudez. Grice held on for dear life as Bermudez landed shot after shot. By the time Grice squirmed out of Bermudez’s grasp, 40 significant strikes had already been landed to his face.
After some knees in the clinch from Grice, the battle began to open up on the feet. A big left hook staggered Bermudez momentarily, but he fired right back. Grice began putting it all together; kicks, punches, knees, and elbows were flowing fluidly and landing on Bermudez’s face and body. 3 minutes into the fight, and both men had landed 19 strikes on the feet. Then came the 20th strike from Bermudez.
A right hook cracked Grice on the chin, and Bermudez went into attack mode. The crowd went berserk as Bermudez rushed forward with three straight lefts, a hard right leg kick, a front kick, and a right hook. Grice’s back is up on the fence and he can do nothing other than up hold on to the rabid dog that is Dennis Bermudez. Grice knows he is in a fight, and it is about to become a war.
As they break off the fence, Grice lands a strong combination that backs Bermudez up. A big overhand right misses for Bermudez, and he is lifted off his feet from a perfectly timed counter left hook from Grice. Any average individual would have been knocked out cold from Grice’s counter left hook, but not Dennis Bermudez. Staggered, but not beaten, Bermudez gets to his feet and looks to get the fight to the mat. Grice wants none of it, and lands on the wounded Bermudez. The round ends with Grice attacking in similar fashion to Bermudez’s earlier onslaught.
Round 2 certainly could not keep up to the wild pace of the first round right? Wrong. Grice lands another clean left hook in the first minute, and Bermudez’s chin is on display. Bermudez begins to work his footwork, but Grice is still landing cleanly. Bermudez gets knocked down again, but quickly gets back to his feet. Grice gets the takedown, Bermudez’s back, and is fishing for the rear naked choke. Bermudez defends nicely and gets out. Blood is now dripping down the face of Matt Grice from a gash that opened up on his forehead. A front kick and lunging right hook from Bermudez catches Grice on the fence. The round ends with Bermudez deep on an arm-in guillotine, but Grice rolls out of it.
The third round begins with a blitzkrieg from Dennis Bermudez. Left uppercut, right hook, and right uppercut stagger Grice. Grice is fighting to survive as Bermudez pours it on. Bermudez gets on top and lands some heavy ground and pound. The pace set by Bermudez is truly astonishing to watch as he lands blow after blow to Grice.
Grice has no quit in him, though. Matt Grice doesn’t even know what the word quit is. He fights back to his feet and stuffs a Bermudez takedown attempt. Elbows from Grice, but he is cracked by another uppercut from Bermudez. The crowd is in a frenzy as Grice eats shot after shot from Bermudez. Grice is firing back and both men are swinging for the fences.
Matt Grice is surviving Bermudez’s attacks on pure will alone. Bermudez is giving it his all to make Grice break, but it is an impossible task. Jumping knees from Matt Grice as they are on the fence. More uppercuts stagger Grice, but he refuses to go down. These men are both warriors in every sense of the word. Grice is on wobbly legs, but he is still swinging for the fences. Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg can barely contain their excitement. This is the fight of the year ladies and gentleman. Big left hand and spinning back kick by Grice with 30 seconds to go.
The fight ends in the only way it could have. Both men square up in the center of the Octagon and exchange punch for punch, a front kick lands for Bermudez, and uppercut from Grice. The bell rings and the crowd goes wild. Bermudez and Grice embrace, bringing an end to the unbelievable war the two men just went through.
As the judges rendered their decision, everyone knew that the true winners were the fans. Ultimately, Dennis Bermudez won the fight by Split Decision.
For this fight not to be mentioned among the fight of the year candidates is a crime. This fight was the quintessential back and forth battle MMA fans live for. Neither man would give an inch, and both were fully willing to leave it all inside the Octagon in order to get the victory. Dennis Bermudez vs Matt Grice is undoubtedly one of the greatest, most memorable, and incredible fights of 2013.