Evan Dunham: Making His Claim in the UFC Lightweight Division

Erik FontanezCorrespondent IJanuary 12, 2010


Last night in Fairfax, Virginia, the UFC presented its fans with an Ultimate Fight Night card loaded with hungry up and coming fighters looking to make their mark.

One fighter who made one of the biggest statements was lightweight Evan Dunham, as he pulled out an impressive submission victory over Ultimate Fighter winner Efrain Escudero.

Coming from the brink of destruction, Dunham pulled off a great comeback when he was able to submit the man who has trademarked the nickname “Hecho En Mexico”.

The first round of the affair looked as if Dunham was going to be put away as Escudero pulverized the Xtreme Couture fighter with blow after blow with no let up in sight.

Halfway through the first, Escudero landed repeated power shots; one of which was a looping right hand that sent Dunham toppling backward toward the canvas. Miraculously, Dunham survived the ground assault from Escudero and finished out the round after neutralizing the Mexican contender.

The second round showed Dunham getting a second wind. Almost like his corner lifted a fire under his grappling shorts, Dunham became the aggressor and flooded Escudero with strikes. Unlike the first round, Dunham looked sharp and clean as if the previous five minutes never happened.

Unfortunately for Escudero, his gas tank appeared to have run out by the second round. This may have been the deciding factor in the bout.

The third round opened with Dunham having a evil smirk on his face. As if he could smell blood, Dunham came out and controlled the center of the cage like a lion settling in to catch his prey.

At the one-minute mark of the final round, Dunham secured what would be his final takedown of Escudero. In some of the most graceful fashion in recent history, Dunham transitioned from Escudero’s back and locked in a beautiful armbar that looked like it broke the reality show winner’s limb. Bending back in an unnatural state, Escudero had no option other than to tap out.

For the first time in his career, Efrain Escudero feels the bitter taste of defeat as it wallows in his system while en route to a local Fairfax, VA hospital to get his arm checked.

As for Dunham, he enjoys a win and earns a submission of the night paycheck as well.

This marks Dunham’s tenth win overall, compared to no losses, and three wins in the UFC. The leading MMA promotion on the planet might have a diamond in the rough and not even know it.

With all the talk of Gray Maynard and Frankie Edgar being the next opponents for champion BJ Penn, one cannot turn their attention away from the rise of Xtreme Couture’s Dunham.

Quality wins over quality fighters is a requirement of a championship contender and Dunham appears to be well on his way to adding such content to his fighting resume. This last win has to be a step towards a main card pay-per-view bout and upper class competition.

If Evan Dunham can reel off a couple more victories in the 155-pound division, expect to see him in the conversation when it comes to potential challengers of Penn’s dominance. That being said, who could be considered Dunham’s next opponent. The smart money goes in the direction of four names: Florian, Gomi, Maynard and Edgar.

With Florian rumored to fight Gomi and Edgar recently getting the title bid, it appears that Maynard may be the next reasonable scrap would be fellow Fight Night winner Gray Maynard. Only problem with that is their affiliation with Xtreme Couture.

The question is if the two talented lightweights will be able to set aside the closeness from fighting out of the same camp and understand that the bout would be a smart business decision. Only time will tell.

Leave it up to Dana White and the rest of the UFC big wigs to start the negotiation process and makes some sense out of the enigmatic lightweight division.