Q&A: Dennis Bermudez imagines every opponent is BJ Penn

UFC featherweight Dennis ‘The Menace’ Bermudez looks to rebound from a first-round knockout loss to Chan Sung Jung this Saturday (July 22) when he takes on Darren Elkins at UFC on Fox 25.

Ahead of the fight, Bermudez, 16-6, spoke to Fighters Only’s Tony Reid and told him all about his early days as a fighter, what drives him, the best moment of his career so far and who he’d love to have round for dinner.

 


 

Q: What is the best thing nobody knows about you?

Dennis Bermudez: I think I’m pretty cool. I can burp on command. I have been able to do a double front flip off the diving board since the age of 13.

Q: What is the best bit of advice you would give to your younger self?

DB: If I would have applied myself more in high school, I would have been the valedictorian. Think about it: if you would have studied for even 20 minutes a day, you would have been at the top of your class. We were so stupid back then. It should have been so easy.

Q: What was your inspiration to fight?

DB: All of the guys I train with are better than me at something, and, before the fight, in my head, I wonder what they would do to my opponent. Usually the answer is absolutely demolish them. Now what am I going to do to my opponent? That’s what goes through my head.

The other thing I do, and this may sound weird, is imagine my opponent is BJ Penn. I tend to fight down to my competition, so, in my mind, I get myself ready to fight one of the all-time greats and a guy I grew up watching. I get ready to fight him.

Q: What do you remember about your first fight?

DB: I had taken down everyone in the area and everyone at my gym. Well, I went into this fight and the guy stuffed my first two takedown attempts, then I got him against the cage and he felt really strong. I thought I was in for a long night. I hit him with a really stiff jab and then the whole momentum of the fight changed. I didn’t stop swinging at him for about two minutes. I landed a knee and TKO’d him. That was it.

Q: What is the best moment of your career so far?

DB: I guess I’m doing everything right. Dana White called me a while back just to say I was a beast. He said to keep it up and said I was going to have a promising career. I don’t think he calls too many people just to tell them they are The Man. He’s a businessman so I would think most of his calls are business-related. He and Lorenzo were like, “Dude… sick! Keep it up!” It was almost surreal. I was almost starstruck by it.

Q: What makes MMA superior to other sports?

DB: If a dude is a better wrestler than you, well, then he’s a better wrestler than you. In MMA, if a dude is a better wrestler than you, maybe your jiu-jitsu is better. Or, if he’s a better wrestler, maybe you can knock him out standing. It’s many sports in one. Also, after a win or loss you can’t point any fingers. You won or you lost.

Q: What feels best – a knockout or submission victory?

DB: A knockout, man.

Q: Who is the best opponent you have faced so far?

DB: Drew Fickett. I fought him back in Shine. He’s just been fighting for so long. He came down from 170 lbs to 155 to fight me in the Shine tournament. That was my first loss, too.

Q: What jobs did you have before becoming a fighter?

DB: I used to do some landscaping in Pennsylvania. The guy that owned the business was a designer. We made ponds, waterfalls, molds and a lot of cool stuff. When you are done and drive away from the job and everything looks immaculate, that’s a great feeling.

Q: Is there a cartoon character you resemble?

DB: The Beast from X-Men. Maybe a little Hulk.

Q: If you could invite three guests to dinner, who would they?

DB: I would say Barry Sanders, The Rock and Kevin Hart as my third.

Q: What is your guilty pleasure?

DB: Chicken parmesan. I could eat it every day. Actually anything bad for you… I’m like, yep, I like it.

Q: What is the best lesson life has handed you?

DB: Work hard, never give up and you can accomplish great things. I was told so many times in high school by people that I wouldn’t make any money wrestling. I may not have made money but it made me the person I am today. Stick with it, chase your dreams. So many people have dreams and want to do things so bad but every day they aren’t taking steps to get closer to that goal. Always try to be moving closer to your goal.