Clearly, Evan Dunham knows this quite well, as the lightweight constantly utilized a one-two combination to defeat Ultimate Fighter 13 alumnus Shamar Bailey at UFC Fight Night 25: Shields vs. Ellenberger.
To say Dunham occasionally used the punching combination would be an understatement because it seemed to be the favorite part of his arsenal throughout the three-round affair on Saturday night. Now, while this might not be the most entertaining approach from a fan perspective because of the lack of power shots that followed, it scored points. So why stop doing it?
Someone cue the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” music.
According to Dunham, he wanted to use his hands more this time around. He credits trainer Ray Sefo for prepping him to do so.
“I was glad I was able to work my hands the way I did,” Dunham said shortly after his win in New Orleans. “That’s all Ray Sefo, right there. I started working with him and he’s made my stand-up a whole lot better and I can’t thank him enough.”
With Sefo’s help, Dunham stops a two-fight skid that no one expected to begin in the first place. Prior to losing to Sean Sherk at UFC 119 in September of 2010, Dunham was one in a handful of UFC lightweights who was considered by many to have a serious shot at contending for 155-pound gold. Even after the Sherk loss, people still gave him a shot at being a top contender due to the overwhelming opinion that he was robbed that night in Indianapolis.
Then Melvin Guillard happened and the Evan Dunham hype train just sort of stopped in the middle of nowhere, miles away from the station.
So with the win over Shamar Bailey, Dunham gets back on track and hopes to chug along on his way back to title town.
“It was a good fight form me. I needed a comeback fight,” he said. “Last couple of fights (were) really tough for me, mentally. I really don’t think I lost the Sherk fight, but the record says I did.”
Obviously, the way back to the top is not going to be easy by any stretch. Gray Maynard and Frankie Edgar are readying to square off in Houston next month, while Clay Guida and Ben Henderson are hoping to take up some real-estate on the first UFC on Fox broadcast the following month.
And then there is Dunham’s old foe Guillard, who patiently waits for Joe Lauzon at UFC 136, the same card Maynard and Edgar are on.
Man, what a long trek on the road to being in the lightweight title picture. It’s all good, though, according to Dunham. He’s just happy to be at the party.
“This division is so tough, man,” he said of the 155-pound weight class. “(There are) so many incredibly tough guys in this division and I’m just happy to be a part of it.”
Matchmaking is fun, so why not do a little Joe Silva impersonation for the moment and see who Dunham should face next.
If he wants to be seriously considered for contention in the near future, Dunham will have a to take on and decisively beat a game opponent. In considering who said opponent should be, names like Denis Siver and Jim Miller come to mind.
The fight that probably makes the most sense for Dunham would be against Siver. If he’s into testing his hands and putting Ray Sefo’s handy work to task, the German striker is, while dangerous, the best option for proving your striking can overcome top competition. A win against him would speak volumes of where he stands and recent losses would soon be swept under the rug and nearly forgotten.
Miller, who just came off a loss to Ben Henderson at UFC on Versus 5: Hardy vs. Lytle, might make for a decent pairing with Dunham when considering both fighters’ next outings. The New Jersey native was on a seven-fight win-streak and considered one of the next in line for a title shot before falling to “Bendo.” If Dunham puts down someone with that kind of resume, it’s only a matter of time before he’s back in the fold and eyeing contention, again.
But then again, there’s Anthony Pettis… Dunham was right, there are a lot of tough guys at lightweight.