Bermudez tries to entertain us some more against Rony Jason this August 6, 2016 at the Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah.
One sentence summary
David: Captain Carnage takes on Captain Copacetic in this comic book battle of modestly above average pugilism tracing.
Phil: Who got knocked out more excitingly by Jeremy Stephens?
Record: Dennis Bermudez 15-5 Rony Jason 14-5-1 NC
Odds: Dennis Bermudez -235 Rony Jason +215
HIstory / Introduction to the fighters
David: Bermudez fights like those animated characters you create on your own with no discernible characteristics that are built on nothing but horsepower. He’s a more civilized Diego Brandao, which is why he’s actually part of the division’s important hierarchy. But that doesn’t make him any less flawed. Related to nothing, I watch his fight with Matt Grice at least twice a day.
Phil: Coming off TUF, Bermudez was the kind of defensively deficient, athletic and hyper-aggressive talent who might be expected to become something quite special down the road. Now, years later he’s… a defensively deficient, athletic and hyper-aggressive talent. No real complaints here, because he’s incredibly fun to watch. Unlike many physically overwhelming high-pace fighters, he doesn’t even have particularly bad cardio, so his fights are entertaining hulk smash violence from start to finish.
David: On paper, Jason belongs on these main card firestarters. He’s only ever won one fight in his career by decision, so he’s dependably violent in victory or defeat. Yet who tweets anxiety memes and Loki gifs to their fellow peers in anticipation for a Rony Jason fight? Wait, what are we doing here? Shouldn’t Dayne Fox be earning his bread by doing diligent preview work while we sip appletini’s in a Manhattan High Rise talking about our favorite hyper-cultured, privileged Woody Allen characters?
Phil: Hey, you could argue that on a pure rankings standpoint these guys deserve to be in the main event more than Bruce Leeroy and Rodriguez do. Anyway, as you alluded to, Mr Bezerra was one of the TUF winners who fell off the radar pretty quickly. He was one of the veteran winners, and while he was fairly violent, it was clearly the product of a relatively well-rounded skillset rather than a blinding physicality which would pay dividends down the road. “He’s about as good as he’s going to be” people thought… and they appeared to be largely right.
What are the stakes?
Phil: Violence for the violence gods. Either guy winning is fine for the UFC- Jason does decently well with the Brazilian fans, and Bermudez is a personable purveyor of blood-soaked kineticism. Winner fighting the winner of the main event seems like a sound idea.
David: Not sure how I feel about Bermudez fighting Rodriquez. It’s a great fight but it reminds me too much of Bermudez vs Holloway, in which the better prospect has the potential to lose given the clash of styles. Give Yair one more fight before someone like Bermudez. Otherwise the only thing at stake is both men’s cognition.
Where do they want it?
David: Despite his reputation, Bermudez has worked hard to refine his game into something more layered, and polished. No longer just winging that big right hand, he sets up combinations, positions for uppercuts, and has learned to weave better when stuck in close quarter combat (a boon to Dennis’ game since he’s so effective in the clinch, or when wrestling). He’s also cleaned up his grappling: it was never a flawed part of his game, but he’s grown more adept at using his positioning to angle for better punches on the ground, or submission attempts that aren’t just guillotines. I really believe he could beat Stephens in a rematch despite the stylistic struggle. Bermudez is on the verge of being an elite-ish fighter. But a lot of latent variables would have to come together for anything approximating a “manifest destiny”.
Phil: This is the upside of Bermudez’ development. His defense is about where it was, but his offense is rendered far more potent by efficiency- cleaner chambering of strikes and a more focused opportunism both lead into the aforementioned ability to keep a pace, and also mean that he’s more able to capitalize if his offense starts working. However, he’s still liable to get carried away; albeit in smoother ways; like a train running away down the tracks rather than as a truck careening out of control. I agree with the Stephens assessment, too. That fight was back-and-forth as hell, and it speaks to the eternal value of having lots of powerful offense. You can never count a fighter like Bermudez out, apart from perhaps against the very cleanest and most devastating counterpunchers.
David: Rony Jason’s abilities don’t stand out in obvious ways. He’s a strange mixture of economy, and fight paroxysms. The awkward aesthetic of a Rony Jason comes from how quickly he throws unorthodox strikes, but how labored his orthodox attack is. I’d like to see him get hooked up with a stronger camp that could help him find a consistent rhythm: not that I think he’s secretly a caged lion. But there’s a foundation there for something more consistent (or unconventional). As is, he’s got good pop in his right hand, a gift for random jumping knees, and one of the last of the effective guards in MMA (swivels his hips quickly from his back, and with a varied arsenal).
Phil: Jason is one of those fighters who can finish everywhere and lose everywhere as well. He has no significant gaps in the areas of striking, wrestling, submissions or wrestling, but he’s not particularly devastating in any one of those areas either. He’s a notoriously hard worker and has a lot more cachet with other Brazilian fighters than he necessarily does with the fans over here. As it stands, he’s someone that will generally find a way to win against limited fighters but also struggles against basic combinations like “striker with decent takedown defense”
Insight from past fights?
David: Peralta vs. Jason. Peralta’s a good, underrated, but unheralded fighter on his own. But this should have been a winnable fight for Jason. The bout highlights his issue with attrition. He doesn’t have a real identity in the cage, and thus can’t define for himself his cage goals. So he ends up getting outworked by a fighter who only has to work as hard as Jason allows him.
Phil: Lamas-Bermudez. If we think of Jason as a weird combination of well-rounded skills, poor process and great finishing instincts, we actually come to Lamas as his closest analogue. Which makes this perhaps more of a threatening fight than it might appear. However, Lamas is an underrated physical presence, and I do think Jason is the dialled down version of the archetype.
David: USADA notifying Jason that there’s a bomb on a bus he must diffuse by taking a piss on the steering wheel? Sounds crazy, but just ask Kevin van Impe how fucking stupid this sanctimonious war on drugs is.
Phil: On this, there’s a good piece on the war on PEDs here. I think it glosses over the inherent “tragedy of the commons” problems a bit, but it’s still very thoughtfully done.
David: Bermudez has been decreasing the ‘scare factor’ against fighters he shouldn’t be scared by. Jason is just unconventional enough to catch Bermudez with something bizarre, but Bermudez is just consistent enough to cracks skulls, and take spines for trophies. Dennis Bermudez by TKO, round 3.
Phil: Bermudez is not the kind of chap to ever completely rely on, especially when he’s fighting a finisher. However, he’s bigger and stronger and will be pushing a pace which I doubt Jason can keep. He may well get a scare along the way because that’s who he is, but Dennis Bermudez by TKO, round 2.
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