Gleison Tibau is one of the most enduring and under-appreciated lightweights in the history of the UFC. Evan Dunham is no slouch, either.
Sitting atop the UFC 156 preliminary card, the two of them got the chance to show off the skills they have honed over their combined 10 years of UFC experience. In the end, Evan Dunham took home a split-decision win.
With both fighters hoping to climb up the rankings, this was a key matchup in the middle tier of the lightweight division. So what did we learn?
Neither Fighter Has Great Cardio
At UFC 145 when Benson Henderson faced Frankie Edgar, the future champ's coach asked him if he had five more minutes of fight left in him. Bendo responded with “I have 15” and left no doubt about whether or not that was true.
After two rounds, both Evan Dunham and Gleison Tibau both slowed down in a big way. If this had been a five-round affair, both parties would have likely leaned on the ref for support when the decision was read.
While both fighters are quite good, the 155-lb division is so stacked that being unable to put up 15 minutes of pure hustle spells doom against top fighters. Both fighters are young enough, so there is plenty of room to improve. As it stands, though, they are clearly not as good as the top level of the division.
Gleison Tibau Has Really Big Arms
Seriously, did you see the guns he was packing? Tibau was built like a tank, and even after rehydrating after his cut, he still had a six-pack and a back that looked like a bag filled with baseballs.
While he slowed down a bit as the fight went on, the sheer amount of power in Tibau's hands is profound. In all likelihood, Tibau has the most raw power of any lightweight in MMA.
Granted, he's missed weight a few times, but there's no questioning that Tibau is a great guy to have in the lightweight division.
Evan Dunham Is Not Ready for a Top Lightweight
With three Fight of the Night bonuses in just 10 fights (and a submission bonus on the side), Evan Dunham might be close to becoming the new Joe Lauzon. Like Joe Lauzon, though, he has had trouble demonstrating that he is ready for the next level when the opportunity arises.
Dunham beat Gleison Tibau, sure. And yes, he has a solid 7-3 record in the UFC.
That said, any discussion coming into this fight that Dunham was inching toward title contention has to be brushed off. Sure, he is a solid lightweight and definitely deserves a spot in the UFC. But he would probably get murdered by somebody like Rafael dos Anjos or Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Lightweight Division? Still Awesome
With all that hate, I still need to point out that these are two physically gifted, well-rounded mixed martial artists. And neither of them is even close to being in the top 10.
That just shows how crazy awesome the lightweight division is these days—both fighters are really quite good. It's just that the competition is so crazy steep, being “really quite good” is not enough to get a shot at the belt.