UFC Fight for the Troops 2: The Real Winners and Losers
The UFC's second Fight for the Troops fundraiser appears to have been a success both on the entertainment front as well as money earned for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.
According to IFHF board member Martin Edelman, more than $600,000 was raised from call-in donations during the Spike broadcast of the event—much more is likely to be donated from Zuffa itself.
And though the card's lineup looked far from stellar going into the night, each bout had something intriguing to offer. Most of the fighters put on a show worthy of the 3,200 troops that attended the bouts.
Let's review the nights biggest winners, losers, and everything in between.
Biggest Winner: Melvin Guillard
After partaking in The Ultimate Fighter season 2, Melvin Guilard was widely seen as a major prospect that had yet to develop the mental attributes to match his eye-catching physical gifts.
After back-to-back first-round submission losses to Joe Stevenson and Rich Clementi—the first of which he tested positive for cocaine—many gave up on Guillard's chances to ever become a real contender in the stacked UFC lightweight division.
Since that time, however, Guillard has gone 7-1 (6-1 in the UFC), with the only blemish being a submission loss to Nate Diaz in a fight he was looking very sharp in before getting caught.
And it now seems that Guillard is starting to come into his own, likely a result of switching training camps to Greg Jackson's all-start team in New Mexico.
Saturday night, Guillard achieved the biggest win of his career by stopping the betting favorite Evan Dunham in the main event.
Guillard blitzed Dunham and had him reeling before he knew what hit him. It was an amazing display of the speed and power we have come to know from Guillard.
The win puts Guillard on the ever-growing list of contenders at 155 pounds. Clearly, submissions have always been his weakness, but if he can always perform like he did last night, he may not have to worry about that.
I'm reminded of something HBO boxing analyst Larry Merchant said years ago when watching a young Lennox Lewis.
"Sure he has chinks in his armor, but look at all that armor!"
A bout with Sean Sherk seems to make total sense in the immediate future. Guillard's takedown defense looked impenetrable last night, and Sherk would surely test it further.
Biggest Loser: Evan Dunham
It may be a bit misleading to have both main event fighters as the biggest winner and loser, because if their results were reversed, they would not be wearing these titles.
Evan Dunham had originally been scheduled to face Kenny Florian in last night's main event.
Most people know Florian. He is a two-time title challenger and widely ranked among the best lightweights in the world.
It was a nice style matchup for Dunham, and if he were to win, it would have been a massive step in his career.
However, Florian was forced to pull out of the fight with an injury in early December. The UFC, always quick with a plan B, simply moved Melvin Guillard up from his undercard bout with Yves Edwards and pitted him against Dunham.
While this was surely still an attractive option for the fans, the risk/reward ratio for Dunham was completely thrown off. A win over Guillard would be expected, and a loss would be a disaster. A loss to Florian would have been a bit more forgivable.
Well, as we all know, Dunham got destroyed in the first round and knocked out before the three minute mark, and it was Guillard who got the giant boost to his career.
Dunham did show plenty of heart and fortitude in trying to recover and continue in the bout, however. So, he does seem to have the character to recover from this.
Most Beneficial To The UFC: Mark Hominick
Going into his bout with George Roop, Mark Hominick was expected the receive a title shot as long as he came out victorious.
Largely, the looming shot at champion Jose Aldo was due to there being nobody else for Aldo to fight, and Hominick being on a nice winning streak.
Realistically, Hominick was expected to win Saturday night and then meet Aldo in a lowly anticipated title fight later this year.
Luckily for the UFC, Hominick looked every bit of the No. 1 contender in outclassing Roop with every punch he threw.
Hominick's power and accuracy proved that he will undoubtedly be the best striker Aldo has ever faced.
The performance made what many percieved to be just another defense from Aldo into a competitive bout that most will be looking forward to.
I for one give Hominick a good chance in out-striking the featherweight champ—or am I just still high off of that showing?
Either way, the UFC should be grateful.
Easiest Night: Matt Mitrione
First off, let me say that I'm not criticizing the matchmaking here.
Matt Mitrione is a relative newcomer to the sport and should be brought along at a steady pace. But, nobody in their right mind was predicting Tim Hague to win Saturday night.
Hague was 1-3 in the UFC heading into his bout with Mitrione, and after less than three minutes in the cage, he left 1-4. And these are not elite heavyweights that Hague has fallen to.
With losses to Joey Beltran, Chris Tuchscherer, and a seven-second knockout loss to Todd Duffee on his UFC resume, it is hard to understand how the promotion keeps giving him work.
So much for "no easy fights in the UFC."
But, as I stated, I am not complaining about it. A journeyman like Hague is a necessity in the fight game. How else would an up-and-coming young heavyweight get his feet under him?
I just want everyone to remember fights like these the next time Dana White talks about nobody getting soft touches in his organization.
And one more thing. Calling Mitrione a prospect is a bit of a stretch.
Yes, he has looked surprisingly good since participating in The Ultimate Fighter, but at the age of 32 with only four fights under his belt, he is more of an entertaining sideshow than a potential contender.
Most Entertaining: Yves Edwards
In 2004, following a decision win over Hermes Franca and an all-time great head-kick knockout of Josh Thomson, Yves Edwards was considered the best lightweight in the UFC.
Unfortunately for him, there was no UFC lightweight championship at the time.
He can take solace in the fact that most fans from that time period remember he was the top 155 pounder, but the reality is that new fans would look at him differently if he had "former UFC champion" on his resume.
It was not to be, but Edwards is back in the UFC now in an attempt to further his legacy a bit before time runs out.
With a record of 40-16-1, Edwards has seen it all by now. But, a loss to a recent TUF loser would surely mean the end of his current run in the UFC.
That is part of what made his battle with Cody McKenzie so exciting; there was quite a bit on the line.
Edwards' stand up was far superior, with McKenzie proving to be dangerous on the ground in any position.
Still, Edwards was able to take his man's back and sink in a tight rear-naked choke that put McKenzie unconscious.
After watching Melvin Guillard's performance in the main event, Edwards should feel a little fortunate that his opponent was switched, especially considering he received two bonuses for Submission of the Night and Fight of the Night.