The knees of Dustin Pague would make a big difference this week. | Photo: Keith Mills
Last week, we learned that Team Bisping now has a mole within the ranks of Team Miller: John Dodson has been feeding precious info to Bisping. It’s like “The Departed” in four-ounce gloves. Now, Bisping has learned that the next fight Jason Miller plans to pick is between Stephen Bass and Dennis Bermudez.
Armed with that knowledge, Bisping turns his focus to preparing Bass and puts him through a tough workout. Bass is absolutely spent following two rounds of rough scuffling and doesn’t want any part of another; according to Bisping, this just isn’t going to cut the mustard.
“We need to win this fight. If that means you getting off your ass and doing a third round, you’re getting off your ass and doing a third round,” the coach implores. Bisping puts Bass through a personal sparring session and the UFC middleweight contender leaves him with a black eye.
It’s time for the fight announcement and Bisping is a no-show. Miller takes one of the boxing dummies and drags it over to the other team, standing behind it and giving his best Bisping impression. It’s not a good one.
“I think Bisping not showing up sends a clear message to his team,” says Miller before switching to a British accent and adding, “I don’t care about you.”
Miller believes that Bermudez will win and that it will serve to lower morale over on Team Bisping, especially with the Brit slowly becoming an absentee coach.
And, as quick as that, it’s time for the fight between the man Miller calls “Strong Island,” Dennis Bermudez, and Stephen Bass.
Bisping tells Bass that his black eye makes him look mean just before the fight. Perhaps inspired, things don’t start out too badly for Bass, as he keeps the center of the cage for a spell and stuffs one of Bermudez’s first takedown attempts. Up against the fence, Bass and Bermudez fight for underhooks before Bermudez takes advantage of Bass leaning a little too far in one direction.
Bisping screams out warnings, but Bermudez trips Bass to the mat, and from there things begin to unravel. Despite Bisping’s clear instructions, Bass doesn’t follow any of them and is content to stay on his back. Bass leaves Bermudez in his guard, which is fine by Bermudez as he is still able to posture up and rain down all the elbows and punches he wants.
Bisping implores Bass to stand up or create space, but Bermudez is smothering him, leaving Bass able only to react and defend. Several times, Bermudez looks like he might finish as he pounds, causing Steven to curl up against the fence.
“Stand the f--- up,” screams Bisping, while Miller yells to Bermudez that his foe is breaking. To Bass’ credit, he guts out the round. In the interim, Bisping tries to reason with Bass saying, “You got to get the f--- up,” before adding, “You’re getting punched in the face anyway.”
The second round is no better for Bass as Bermudez was able to execute what he threatened to do in his pre-fight interview, claiming that he would “put a blanket on him and try to suffocate him with it.” Bass is again on his back and alternating onto all fours while trying to stave off the relentless battering from Bermudez. Bass begins to cry out -- not cry, mind you -- yelling in pain and frustration as he just can’t shake Bermudez off.
Bass has one chance left and goes for broke with a leglock. To Bisping’s dismay, Bass doesn’t use it to stand up get away from Bermudez. It’s back to belly-down for Bass.
“Let’s go paws on his face again,” Miller tells to Bermudez, which makes it sound almost pleasant, but apparently “paws on face” means Bermudez sits on your back and pummels your ears with hooks until a TKO stoppage.
“I think he hit me once, twice,” says Bermudez after winning the very lopsided affair.
After the bout, Bisping takes his team to task, pointedly telling Bass and Ferguson that they lost their fights simply because they refuse to listen. Miller gets another fight pick right away and Dustin Pague is chosen from Team Miller. He dons a bright green fright wig indicating that he’ll be fighting green-haired Louis Gaudinot. It’s another tall-versus-small matchup and another matchup Team Bisping knew about in advance leading Miller to ask, “Who’s the rat?”
John Dodson stays silent while his team bats around the notion that someone among them is a mole. Miller says it doesn’t matter what they know.
“What are they gonna do?” asks Miller “They better train harder, and it’s hard to train without a coach.”
Meanwhile, Bisping gets pulled aside by Steven Bass. Bisping says he was expecting to hear Bass apologize for not listening to the game plan. Unfortunately, the camera misses the exchange, but Bisping marches back into his team’s locker room, announcing that Bass has just blamed him for the loss. This sends Bass backpedaling, trying to defend his statement, explaining that it was the extra rounds in training that he was complaining about.
“You kinda whooped my ass Friday,” Bass says timidly, but his teammates try to show solidarity with their coach.
Pague and Gaudinot prepare for each other, but, as seemingly two of the nicer guys on the show, there isn’t much friction between the two as they enter the cage.
Miller says that he told Pague during training that his height versus the shorter Gaudinot would be very beneficial, specifically in the department of knees. Pague takes Mayhem’s words to heart early, connecting with a knee that lands flush on the much shorter Gaudinot’s face. Another knee to the body has Gaudinot covering up against the fence early, and Pague kicks his foe’s leg out from under him and works for side control.
Gaudinot shows why he was Bisping’s first pick: after escaping to his feet and getting bonked a few more times, he changes up his style and starts using spinning back fists and whirling kicks to counter Pague’s straightforward approach. Pague’s clinch is giving Gauidnot fits, however, and he’s able to lean the green-haired fighter against the fence and throw knees and uppercuts.
Toward the end of the first round, Pague begins to take full control and overwhelm Gaudinot. In the second frame, he continues his model of pressing Gaudinot against the fence, using his forearm on the throat to pin him back. An uppercut and two more thudding knees from the clinch fold Gaudinot in half, crumpling to the floor with blood pouring out of his face. Naturally, Pague jumps on him to put him away. Gaudinot fights him off for a few moments until Pague works behind his back and puts on the finishing rear-naked choke.
“It’s the coolest experience I’ve had thus far in my life,” says a grinning Pague, who thanks God for all his success.
Gaudinot’s nose is cut right across the bridge. He and his coach both suffer through his loss, as Bisping wipes away a few tears while consoling a fighter whom he cares for.
“You’ve got nothing to be sorry for, Louis,” says an emotional Bisping. “I wish I could have done more to help you.”
“To know that I’m 4-0 against Michael, I beat his No. 1 135-pounder,” muses Miller, “I have to just go...”
Mayhem leans back in his chair with his fingers laced behind his head, grinning. Everything is coming up Miller.