February 19, 2016

UFC Fight Night 83: Bermudez vs. Kawajiri is the Most Compelling Fight of the Weekend

By Raphael Garcia

UFC Fight Night 83 isn’t a huge event for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, but it still has some interesting bouts to offer. The planned featherweight bout between Dennis Bermudez and Tatsuya Kawajiri is one of those compelling fights. While this contest isn’t a title eliminator in any form or fashion, the style matchup creates a bout that has the potential to steal the show this weekend.

Bermudez and Kawajiri are two fighters who are not prone to shy away from violent exchanges. Both men are very active but inaccurate on the feet. According to FightMetric Bermudez lands 4.45 strikes per minute as compared to 2.15 for Kawajiri. However, Kawajiri’s defense is much better than Bermudez as he absorbs less strikes over the same amount of time; 1.74 for Kawajiri, as opposed to 3.32 for Bermudez.

Another element of this fight that makes it interesting is that both fighters are well versed in using wrestling to control where the fight occurs. What often occurs in fights like these is that both men frustrate each other with their takedown defense, that they are forced to spend more time on their feet in exchanges. Bermudez has shown the ability to control wrestlers, such as he did against Clay Guida at UFC on Fox 12.

At this point in his career, Kawajiri’s style calls for him to face men that are willing to exchange with him in the pocket, rather than taking the fight to the floor. Bermudez has the abilities to compete in that range, however being on a two-fight losing streak will impact the way New York native competes. It wasn’t long ago that Bermudez was riding a seven-fight win streak and knocking on the door to a featherweight shot. His fortune suddenly changed as he dropped his last two to Jeremy Stephens at UFC 189 and Ricardo Lamas at UFC 180. The fear of being cut from the roster after a third defeat may force him to look for more takedowns in an effort to grind his way to a win. 

At 37-years old, Kawajiri is headed towards the twilight of his career. Since joining the UFC in 2014, he’s only faced one other fighter that pushes an intense pace and that resulted in a unanimous decision loss to Guida at UFC Fight Night 39. Bermudez has the ability to do the same thing in this bout and snap Kawajiri’s two-fight win streak.

Bermudez versus Kawajiri is the exact style matchup that can catch experts and fans off guard. Both competitors have the abilities to succeed in multiple areas of the fight. However, Bermudez is in the “prime” of his career and seems to be too tough of an opponent for a seasoned veteran like Kawajiri. Expect Bermudez to win a three round decision to get his 2016 started in the right direction.

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