Melvin Guillard (left) | Fernando Allende/NY Post/Splash
Fresh off a head-scratching decision loss to former lightweight champion Sean Sherk, the world-ranked Evan Dunham returns to the cage against dangerous Melvin Guillard in the UFC “Fight for the Troops 2” headliner on Saturday at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas.
The event also showcases a pair of heavyweight bouts of interest -- Matt Mitrione vs. Tim Hague and Patrick Barry vs. Joey Beltran -- and assorted matchups from the lighter weight classes.
A closer look at the main card follows:
Evan Dunham (No. 10 LW) vs. Melvin Guillard
The Matchup: As usual, Guillard brings a lot of on-paper advantages into a match, but how he will apply them is the lingering wild card. He’s a powerful striker and exceptionally strong. Dunham enjoyed a great 2010, scoring significant wins over “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 8 winner Efrain Escudero (submission) and Xtreme Couture Mixed Martial Arts representative Tyson Griffin (decision). After a disputed decision defeat to Sherk in September, Dunham’s first career loss means very little. He remains a lightweight to watch.
Dunham will be tasked with controlling the range against Guillard, who excels at shuffling in and out of striking distance and letting big bombs go. Guillard does not want to get into a battle on the mat, where Dunham excels at transitions, threatening with submissions and constantly putting foes on the defensive. As such, Guillard will have to work his range appropriately, utilizing his strikes before getting away clean. Dunham is strong in the clinch, using his height and tie-ups to bang away and score points.
On paper, as was the case in his fight with Nate Diaz at UFC Fight Night 19, this looks like one Guillard can win. However, he made a key error against Diaz and was submitted by the Stockton, Calif., battler, showing again how a single mistake can cost one dearly inside the Octagon, especially against talented lightweights.
The Pick: Dunham is exactly that kind of guy, and he will survive a tough moment or two before finding an opening and exploiting it, winning by submission in the second. This will serve as a major chin test for Dunham, but it is also the kind of bout in which he can show his mettle and prove whether he deserves to move up another notch in the rankings.
Continue Reading » Next Fight: Mitrione vs. Hague