Before getting into what happened and what's next for the fighters of the last UFC event, I wanted to reiterate how meaningful it was to see the UFC executives and fighters spending time with the troops stationed at Fort Hood and before the event how they visit injured soldiers as well. Dana White expressed in his video blog leading up to fight night that he felt that there is not enough Patriotism in this country and how there is a special bond between the UFC and the US Military. It is great to see these guys have genuine empathy for the men and women who serve in the US Military. More people needed to be reminded about the sacrifices these men and women make in the work that they do. Whether you support the military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, you can still support those who have volunteered so a draft like there was during Vietnam is not neccessary.
Now to the fights!
Evan Dunham versus Melvin Guillard
Result: Guillard via TKO
These are two fighters whose careers are going in different directions. Dunham was the talk of the lightweight division just 5 months ago and now he has lost two straight fights. On the other hand, Guillard has won six of his last seven fights and has shown he has matured inside and outside the octagon since a great deal since joining Greg Jackson's fight camp. Dunham tried to get Guillard to the ground to no avail which allowed Guillard to use his striking skills and his speed to pick apart Dunham, leaving to the Technical KnockOut.
Next for Dunham: He obviously had no answers for Melvin Guillard's stand up game. While Dunham has shown flashes of skill while on the feet, he needs more work. It should be noted that Dunham has only 13 career pro MMA fights so he is still new to the big time. Dunham needs to be tested by another agressive, stand up fighter who is an up and comer live Dunham. Jeremy Stephens would setup a matchup that would be a good test for both fighers who are still in their 20's.
Next for Guillard: Despite his opinion that he should get a title shot, the lightweight division in the UFC is a crowded field with many talent, elite level fighters. Guillard has 38 pro MMA fights under his belt and he has won four straight fights. I think Guillard should be setup against the winner of the Donald Cerrone/Paul Kelly fight that is on tap in a couple weeks. Cerrone is the former WEC Lightweight champ and if he gets by Kelly would be an excellent test for Guillard.
Matt Mitrione versus Tim Hague
Result: Mitrione via TKO
Matt Mitrione has only four career MMA matches and he has gotten better with each fight. Tim Hague seemed suprised with Mitrione's improved stand up skills. Mitrione brought the fight to Hague and finished him off in the first round via strikes.
Next for Mitrione: Mitrione said after the fight he wants to continue to be challenged and wants to take another step up on competition. But the UFC knows how popular Mitirone is and they do not want to rush his progress. Ben Rothwell would be a good matchup for Mitrione at this point. Rothwell is an experienced MMA veteran who has a background in Kickboxing and Wrestling. Considering most heavyweights are already booked with upcoming fights, Rothwell seems like a good option right now.
Next for Hague: Even though Hague won his last two fights before Saturday's loss to Mitrione, he won those two fights outside of the UFC. In the UFC he has one win in five matches. If Hague is to stay in the UFC, he needs to win his next fight. I could see Hague fighting the winner of the Chris Tuchscherer/Mark Hunt fight that will take place in late February.
Mark Hominick vs. George Roop
Result: Hominick via TKO
Hominick came into the fight with the guarantee that if he won that his next fight would be against Jose Aldo for the UFC Featherweight Belt. Hominick did not waste time, using his boxing to finish Roop in the first round. Roop, who has trained previously with Hominick, was expected to put up more of a fight. Instead, he looked like he was a step below Hominick in skills.
Next for Hominick: Winning five straight matches has earned him a shot at the UFC Featherweight belt. Hominick claims Jose Aldo has never faced a fighter with Hominick's standup skills. While that may be true, Hominick should be careful that he doesn't under estimate Aldo who has shown he is very skilled in every aspect of the MMA game.
Next for Roop: After winning two straight fights, Roop's loss to Hominick shows he is not ready yet for top line competition in the UFc Featherweight division. A fight with Javier Vazquez, who has a background in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, would be an interesting test for Roop since he has little experience in the ground element of the MMA game.
Pat Barry vs. Joey Beltran
Result: Barry via Unanimous Decission
Beltran did a lot of talk about turning this fight between him and Barry into a brawl before last Saturday. He was able to impose his game plan during the first round of the fight. But in the second round Barry got back to what he does best, which is punish his opponent with vicious kicks. By the third round, Beltran could barely stay standing on one of his legs and Barry dominated the third round.
Next for Barry: First off, Barry's post-fight words about the military were very genuine and you could tell how much fighting for the troops ment to him. Despite the win, he still needs to work on his grappling skills since it took him time to stop being so timid with his stand up offense due to worries about being taken down. A guy like Cheick Kongo would be a good matchup for Barry since Kongo is a kickboxer with average wrestling skills.
Next for Beltran: Losing his last two fights, Beltran's days in the UFC may be numbered. There are very few matches that make sense for him at this point that are not re-matches. Beltran is not going to be improving much more then who he is now: a brawler with average striking, grappling, and wrestling skills. Maybe a fight with the MIA Heath Herring would be an interesting fight for an prelimenary card.
Cole Miller vs. Matt Wiman
Result: Wiman via Unanimous Decission
This was one of those fights that helps lineup who is moving up and down in the UFC lightweight ranks. Both fighters had looked really good in their last two fights, but it was Wiman who came out on fire in this matchup. Miller seemed overwhelmed by Wiman's aggressive standup and when they were on the ground, Miller seemed lost against his opponent.
Next for Miller: Cole Miller is 6-3 during his time in the UFC and his three losses have been to aggressive fighters. It is usually Miller impossing his aggression in the Octagon that has led to wins, but he seems to loose that attitude when he is faced with aggressive standup fighters. A fight with Charles Oliveira would be an interesting matchup of two guys with backgrounds in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Next for Wiman: Now on a three fight winning streak, Wiman seemed unable to finish Miller in three rounds. This tells me he still has a great deal of room for growth despite his exponential improvement since his decission loss to Sam Stout. A fight with Nik Lentz would open the chance for both fighters to show who is going to be moving up the lightweight ranks and who is not ready yet.
Quick thoughts on some Preliminary Card Fights
Cody McKenzie vs. Yves Edwards: McKenzie learned Saturday night that just because you have never lost a fight doesn't mean you can get away with relaxing on the ground against a veteran fighter like Yves Edwards. Edwards, who has 57 matches in his Pro MMA career, submitted McKenzie in the second round which showed Edwards still has some left in the tank. Edwards versus Sam Stout would be an interesting standup battle. Cody McKenzie has potential but seems very laid back to be able to achieve much in the UFC.
Mike Brown vs. Rani Yahya: Since losing the Featherweight belt to Jose Also, Mike Brown has lost three of his last five fights. He just is not the same fighter he was before he met Aldo. Its as if Aldo killed his Mojo or his confidence. Whatever the reason, Brown seems to be coming to the end of the road as an MMA fight, despite his popularity. While Yahya has some nice career wins, he has shown an inability to consistently beat top level MMA competition. Maybe a fight with Josh Grispi is in order to see if Yahya has what it takes in the UFC Featherweight division.
Waylon Lowe vs. Willamy Freire: You can't take a win away from a guy, but one can look at Waylon Lowe's last two wins and come away with questions. No one can question Lowe's excellent wrestling skills or his amazing collegiate wrestling credentials. But I can say that the way he wins makes Jon Fitch look like an exciting fighter. He seems to run out of steam quickly and take too much time to regain his energy. Stamina and standup skills are a problem for Lowe. If he expects to have even half the type of career in MMA that he had as a collegiate wrestler, he needs to improve in both of those areas. Lets not forget he lost his UFC Debut by a Knee to the Body from Melvin Guillard.