After a nine-month layoff, Evan Dunham (11-2) will look to return to the Octagon on Saturday night when he meets TUF 13 alumni Shamar Bailey (12-3) at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans for UFC Fight Night 25.
Dunham is currently at a two-fight deficit after back-to-back losses against former UFC lightweight champion Sean Sherk and Melvin Guillard. Although many feel that Dunham defeated Sherk, the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt fell off the list of title contention after a TKO loss at the hands of Melvin Guillard in January.
The 29-year-old looked to get back on the win column back in July when he was paired with George Sotiropoulos, but he had to withdraw from the fight due to a toe injury.
“I just tore something that kept my big toe in place and every time I pushed off of it my big toe would come all the way out,” Dunham told MMAWeekly Radio.
“I couldn’t pivot on it, I couldn’t shoot on it, I couldn’t do much on it, and the only way I could get it healed is if I put on one of those big boots for six weeks. It was on my back foot; it was on my main driving foot. If it was on my front foot, I could get away with it, but it just kept coming out over and over again. It wasn’t a big deal at first, but it kept happening multiple times a day, so it was a bummer.”
Now, an injury free and focused Dunham is ready to get back in there and fight Bailey.
“I’m really excited to get back in there, it has been a bit of a time, but I don’t think cage rust or anything like that is going to be a big issue. I’m just excited to get back and put on a good show for everybody.”
In preparation for a wrestler like Bailey, he has gone back to training at the Xtreme Couture gym and has now added world-renowned Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu coach Robert Drysdale to his training.
“I know wrestling is his forte fore sure. I know he’s done all of his fights at 170. I’m pretty sure he’s just going to want to take the fight to the ground and that’s fine with me, I’m more than comfortable there, especially in the first round.
“(I spent) lots of time training at Xtreme Couture, there’s lots of good wrestlers over there. I started working with Robert Drysdale and he’s just a phenomenal jiu-jitsu coach and I’ve been working well with him. Same with Ray Sefo, I’ve been using him for my stand-up and Jake Bonacci for my cardio. Quality over quantity, everything I’m doing is beneficial, so it’s been a really good camp.”