The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

March 12, 2014

MMA: Bloomsburg alum returns to the octagon

By Todd Stanford
The Daily Item

DALLAS — Riding a five-fight win streak, Bloomsburg University alum Dennis “The Menace” Bermudez returns to the octagon Saturday night at UFC 171 in Dallas. Bermudez (12-3) will face another featherweight with a Pennsylvania connection, Swoyersville’s Jimy “The Kid” Hettes.

Bermudez’s fight, which will air on Fox Sports 2 sometime between 8 and 10 p.m. Eastern time, is an intriguing matchup between two fighters with noted skills on the ground. Bermudez was an accomplished wrestler for the Huskies from 2007 to 2008, while Hettes is a two-time Keystone State Games gold medalist in judo.

Nevertheless, Bermudez plans on letting his fists do the talking once they’re inside the cage.

“I’m willing to throw some leather and land some big strikes,” Bermudez says. “But if the opportunity for a takedown and for using my wrestling arises, I’m open to that.”

Hettes (11-1) got back on the winning track back in October with a victory over Robert Whiteford; Hettes took Whiteford out via a triangle choke.

That was Hettes’ first appearance in the octagon since his only professional loss — a unanimous-decision setback in 2012 to Marcus Brimage. Brimage battered Hettes on the feet, as the Pennsylvania native struggled to get the fight to the ground.

“That’s one of (Hettes’) weaknesses,” said Bermudez, alluding to Hettes’ striking ability. “(You have to) take away from his strength, which is on the ground.”

Nevertheless, Bermudez is confident that he’s better than Hettes in all areas. When asked where Hettes might be able to hurt him, Bermudez said, “nowhere.”

“Wherever an MMA fight goes, I’m better than him there,” Bermudez continued. “If we stand up, I’ll beat him up there. If he wrestles me, I’ll put him on his head.”

Bermudez, who grew up in upstate New York and now lives and trains on Long Island, lost his UFC debut back in 2011 to Diego Brandao — in a fight in which he staggered the Brazilian star with some heavy hands — via an armbar. But he’s 5-0 since, and he’s gained a reputation as an exciting fighter who always puts on a show.

“I want to give the fans what they want,” says Bermudez, who has twice been awarded “Fight of the Night” bonuses and who has one “Submission of the Night” bonus. “I try to put on a fight I’d want to watch.”

Should he dispatch Hettes and pick up his sixth straight victory, the former Husky will almost certainly be looking at a top-10 opponent in his next fight.

“Top 10 for sure,” says Bermudez, who’s currently ranked 12th in the UFC. “(But) it’s not my job to create the fights. That’s the UFC’s job. I’ll let them do the matchmaking.”

The Bermudez/Hettes fight is part of the undercard at UFC 171. The main event features a welterweight title fight between Johny Hendricks and “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler.