After two losses to Cub Swanson and Charles Oliveira, featherweight veteran Jeremy Stephens went old school in his bout against fellow contender Dennis Bermudez and the result was a back-and-forth war won by the “Lil’ Heathen” via third-round knockout.
“Those last two losses were close decisions,” Stephens said. “I had to go back and think about those old school fights. I was a white belt when I beat (current lightweight champion) Rafael dos Anjos, and I look back and it was my mindset that beat him.”
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Bermudez got in the face of Stephens immediately, with an inadvertent clash of heads opening a bad cut over the right eye of the Iowan after Stephens landed with a hard right hand. Bermudez shook the effects of the blow off and went all in for the takedown, getting it in the third minute. The bloodied Stephens initially had no answers for Bermudez’s ground-and-pound attack, but he soon escaped and began throwing bombs at his foe, who quickly tied him up against the fence.
In the second, Stephens landed his trademark uppercut and got Bermudez in trouble early in round two, and coupled with the kicks that had weakened the New Yorker’s left leg, things were looking up for the “Lil’ Heathen.” Bermudez was not about to take his ball and go home though, as he kept pressing with his striking and clinch game, scoring with several hard shots as he controlled the second half of the frame.
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With the crowd roaring, both Stephens and Bermudez touched gloves in respect before the third frame, but then the hostilities continued, Stephens landing a perfectly-timed jumping right knee that dropped Bermudez like he was shot. The following barrage of punches were almost a formality, as referee Marc Goddard stopped the fight at the 32-second mark of the final round.
With the win, Stephens, who did not make weight for the bout, coming in at 149.5 pounds, improves to 24-11; Bermudez falls to 15-5