Patience proves key as Guillard makes quick work of Dunham
Dana White can't call Evan Dunham undefeated anymore.
Dunham came into the main event of Saturday night's UFC Fight for the Troops 2 event with an 11-1 record officially, but pretty much anyone who had their eyes open during Dunham's fight against Sean Sherk in September was aghast that the split decision went against him. White was among the most relentless in referring to Dunham as an unbeaten fighter. And if you're employed by the UFC and the big boss man says you're unbeaten, then you're unbeaten.
But not any longer. Melvin Guillard (27-8-2, 1 NC) made sure of that, using a refined combination of patience and explosiveness to hand Dunham a loss that no one is going to question. The end came just 2 minutes and 59 seconds in, with Guillard using straight punches and hard knees to put Dunham on the canvas, then connecting with a couple of more knees before referee Mario Yamasaki jumped in.
As the crowd of some 6,000 military men and women at Fort Hood in the small city of Killeen, Tex. stood and cheered, Guillard was quick to return the love. When TV announcer Joe Rogan stepped into the cage for an interview, Guillard ignored his first question and instead addressed the helicopter hangar full of soldiers. "I really want to say thank you so much for everything you guys do," he said. "My uncle was a four-star brigadier general in the Army, retired. I love you guys. And, you know, if I can come in here for under 15 minutes and give you guys a good show, I'm proud of myself."
He ought to be. Guillard was in command pretty much from start to brutal finish. He connected flush with a right to the face just 15 seconds into the bout, and immediately Dunham went in pursuit of a takedown. He got it, but not without a lot of work, and not without being on the receiving end of several hammer fists that foretold what was to come. Even after Dunham dragged Guillard into his office -- the mat, where Evan does his best work -- the fight didn't stay there for long. Within seconds, Guillard was back on his feet and pursuing Dunham with fists flying.
But Guillard, who has had an up-and-down career but has quietly won four straight fights and seven of eight, did not fall into the trap of chasing Dunham. He showed the patience you might expect of a Greg Jackson-trained fighter, methodically stalking Dunham and peppering him with punches and kicks. Eventually he dropped Dunham with another hard, lightning-fast right hand, and Dunham again went into takedown mode, paying the price by absorbing punches as Guillard simultaneously fended him off. A left uppercut loosened Dunham's grip, and a left knee sent him wobbling along the fence, ripe to be finished with the final flurry. The last knee Guillard threw appeared to connect to the face while Dunham was down, but he was already finished and Yamasaki swooped in to save him.
Talk about making the most of an opportunity. Guillard had got this bout only after Dunham's original opponent, Kenny Florian, was injured in training. Now Guillard wants another opportunity.
"I want my title shot," he said. "I'm the dark horse in this game, at '55. No disrespect to anybody in my weight class, but I am the best 155-pound fighter in the UFC."
A couple of guys who fought to an exciting draw on New Year's night, lightweight champion Frankie Edgar and undefeated Gray Maynard, might have something to say about that. So might WEC champ Anthony Pettis, who's waiting in line for his shot at the UFC belt. But Melvin Guillard is ready for anyone Dana White and Co. want to stand in front of him. "You keep lining them up," said Guillard, "I'll keep knocking them down."