UFC 157 prelims: Dennis Bermudez, Matt Grice deliver Fight of the Year candidate

Maggie Hendricks

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- UFC 157's preliminary card started with a bang and ended with a snoozer on Saturday.

Dennis Bermudez took a tight split decision in a fight that will go down as a fight of the year candidate. He won it 29-28, 28-29, 29-28 over Matt Grice.

Bermudez fell into full mount early in the round and rained punches down on Grice's head, but Grice got out and came back late in the round by leveling Bermudez with a left hook.

But it's the third round of the fight that the MMA world will remember. Bermudez threw everything but the kitchen sink at Grice, but Grice hung in. He continued to throw kicks and punches at Bermudez right up until the horn sounded and a grateful crowd in Anaheim came to its feet.

“That was insane. Somewhere around the second round I woke up and thought 'Oh, I’m in a fight, I think I am in California somewhere'," Bermudez said. "If he’d given me a reason, maybe I would have quit. I had that battle inside me where I maybe could have [quit] but I won that battle and from there got back into the fight."

Brendan Schaub used takedowns, and little else, to beat Lavar Johnson 30-27 on all the judges cards in the final fight of the prelims. With the crowd booing, Schaub repeatedly took down Johnson, who had little takedown defense.

Michael Chiesa continued his unbeaten streak with a rear naked choked of Anton Kuivanen. Chiesa rolled through to get into perfect position. He sunk in a rear naked choke that turned Kuivanen's face red. Kuivanen tapped at 2:29 in the second round.

Sam Stout managed another decision win, taking the split 29-28, 28-29 over Caros Fodor. 14 of his fights have ended with judges cards being read, and this decision put his record to 19-8.

Kenny Robertson made quick work of Brock Jardine. He stopped him with a knee bar at 2:57 in the first round.

"Sometime you gotta go with what you are handed. He was on top of me but didn’t have a great posture," Robertson said after the fight. "I saw the opening, so I grabbed his leg and hyper-extended it and he verbally submitted. I’ll take it. It is a first round win in the UFC."

For the card's opener, Nah-Shon Burrell and Yuri Villefort put on a thrilling bout that ended with Burrell taking the decision 30-27, 29-28, 29-28. Villefort had a strong first round, grabbing Burrell for two different submission attempts. But Burrell fought back in the second round, busting up Villefort's face with smart boxing. In the final round, Villefort grabbed a heel hook, but left his face open. Burrell used the opportunity to punch Villefort several time.

After the thriller by Burrell and Villefort, Neil Magny and Jon Manley's bout was a let down for the crowd in Anaheim. They spent much of the bout in a clinch, with Manley trying for a takedown that never came. Magny took the bout with better striking as the bout wore on.

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