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Dennis Bermudez hit the cage at UFC 189 looking to right the ship of his featherweight contendership, as his 30-month run of seven consecutive wins came to a halt with a loss in November of the previous year.
His opponent, Jeremy Stephens, had been in the process of enjoying a featherweight surge of his own before a couple of losses derailed him and left him in a must-win situation on Saturday night. It started poorly for him by missing weight, but he turned it around in a big way with a flying-knee knockout in the third round that left the MGM Grand crowd in a frenzy.
On a night where a theme of spectacular flying knees seemed to be clear, Stephens might have bested Thomas Almeida’s work earlier in the evening. Falling away from a charging Bermudez, he tagged his opponent with a textbook strike to end the bout.
The knee came after a spirited affair, one that saw both men control the pace of things for stretches at a time. While Bermudez seemed poised to use Stephens as a stepping stone back into the Top Five, Stephens was headhunting more and landing with more force.
That force came to a head, perhaps literally, when the flying knee landed and brought things to a halt. It was a remarkable way to end things and showed Lil’ Heathen still has some gas in the tank.