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Exclusive: Evan Dunham Discusses UFC 115 Match Against Training Partner Tyson Griffin

Evan Dunham Efrain Escudero UFC Fight Night 20
(Evan Dunham sets up the armbar that would earn him a Submission of the Night bonus at UFC Fight Night 20. Photo courtesy of Sherdog.)

By CagePotato.com contributor Elias Cepeda

For most fans outside of the Northwest, lightweight up-and-comer Evan Dunham (10-0) has seemingly come out of nowhere to win three in a row in the UFC, including his arm bar submission win over TUF 8 winner Efrain Escudero in January. Next, Dunham will take on one of the division’s top contenders Tyson Griffin at UFC 115 on June 12th. It’s an interesting matchup made much more so by the fact that the two had trained together at Xtreme Couture for the past year. Now living in Las Vegas and training full time, Dunham talks with CagePotato about dealing with fighting a training partner, what kept him in the sport when he thought he would leave forever, and what the biggest factor in his fight against Griffin will be.

CAGEPOTATO.COM: You just came back from the UFC Fan Expo last weekend. How was that for you?

EVAN DUNHAM: It was a good time all around. I went there and did some signing for Ecko Unlimited, a couple hours each day. I was more than happy to do that.

Did you happen to run into Tyson Griffin at all there? Is that something that you thought about beforehand, “I might run into him here”?

No, I didn’t see Tyson. I think he was at the fights or something. I have no idea, I haven’t seen him.

Heading into your last fight against Efrain Escudero, almost all of the attention was placed on him because he was so well known after winning The Ultimate Fighter. Did you feel like an underdog in that fight?

I’m always considered the underdog, even in this next fight coming up. But I never see myself as the underdog. I think it is kind of good luck for me for people to put me in that position because it just makes me work harder. It is supposedly an up-hill battle for me but I know what I’m capable of so it’s not really a problem. If they want to pay more attention to him, that’s great. Because that just means all that attention is going to go back to me when I win.

Has anything changed for you since that win?

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When Good Friends Trade Bad Intentions


(Let’s hope that when Evan Dunham fights a friend, he stops after he hears the first crack.)

by Cage Potato contributor Matt Kaplan

The potential UFC 115 lightweight match-up between Evan Dunham and Tyson Griffin – both from the Xtreme Couture camp – has MMA’s spirited fan base once again weighing in on the topic of teammate vs. teammate.

As expected, reactions range from the pragmatic (‘It’s their job to fight.’) to the more provisional (‘No way, unless it’s for a title or a title shot.’). Neither a title shot nor top-contender status is on the line for Dunham vs. Griffin, but UFC brass has nonetheless matched two training partners against one another, just like it has said it would.

As the debate over teammate vs. teammate continues to spiral off into its natural oblivion, I reached out to a few fighters – including Dunham and Dan Lauzon, who is set to face former training partner Efrain Escudero at UFC 114 – to get their thoughts about having to stand across the cage from a guy they usually have in their corner.

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CagePotato Stats: The UFC Performance Bonus Leaderboard


(And he makes it look so easy…)

Chris Lytle‘s $50,000 Submission of the Night bonus at UFC 110 represented his seventh UFC performance bonus in his last eight fights, which made us wonder: Does that make him the #1 bonus-collector on the UFC’s roster? And who else is in the running? So, with the help of the UG and Wikipedia, we compiled a ranking of the UFC’s top performance bonus leaders, based on available information. When possible, we added up the grand totals of the fighters’ pay-bumps, though the amounts of these bonuses weren’t consistently reported before UFC 70.

Related: UFC Changes Fight-Bonus Structure, Introduces “Performance of the Night”

Fighters With Thirteen Bonuses
Joe Lauzon: 6 Fight of the Night bonuses, 6 Submission of the Night bonuses, 1 Knockout of the Night bonus; $635,000 total

Fighters With Twelve Bonuses
Anderson Silva: 7 KOTN, 3 FOTN, 2 SOTN

Fighters With Eleven Bonuses
Nate Diaz: 5 FOTN, 5 SOTN, 1 KOTN; $535,000 total

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Axe-Wound of the Day: Kampmann Out of UFC 111 With Monster Gash; Ellenberger to Replace

Martin Kampmann gash cut eyebrow
(Photo courtesy of twitter.com/martinkampmann)

The poor bastard you see in the picture above is UFC welterweight contender Martin Kampmann, who had to pull out of his UFC 111 fight against Ben Saunders on Tuesday due to a stomach-turning gash over his right eye, which he suffered in training. (Damn, those Xtreme Couture guys need to take it easy with the broken-glass kickboxing matches.) Kampmann hopes to return to the cage in May. Saunders, who’s coming off his first-round knockout of Marcus Davis at UFC 106, will now take on Jake Ellenberger, who’s fresh off his TKO victory over Mike Pyle. In other UFC matchup news…

— According to a report on MMA Weekly, TUF 7 winner/Master Tweeter Amir Sadollah will compete next against undefeated Judo specialist Dong Hyun Kim at UFC 114 (May 29th, Las Vegas). Sadollah is riding back-to-back unanimous decision wins against Phil Baroni and Brad Blackburn; due to injury, Kim hasn’t competed since his decision win over TJ Grant at UFC 100 last July.

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UFC Bookings/Rumors Roundup: Koscheck, Escudero, Griffin, Daley + More

Frank Trigg Josh Koscheck MMA UFC
(Props: The Sun)

The UFC is reportedly making its first visit to Virginia for UFC Fight Night 20 (January 11th; Fairfax), and the lineup is starting to come together. Here’s what we’re hearing:

Josh Koscheck (13-4), fresh off his first-round TKO over Frank Trigg at UFC 103, will be taking on Mike Pierce (9-1), who most recently scored a big upset over Brock Larson in his Octagon debut at UFC Fight Night 19. Koscheck is under the impression that he’ll be getting Georges St. Pierre soon, though he’s probably still in line after his teammate Mike Swick.

TUF 8 winner Efrain Escudero (12-0) and Nik Lentz (17-3-1) have agreed to meet each other in a lightweight bout. Escudero’s last win was a first-round TKO over Cole Miller at UFC 103, while Lentz defeated Rafaello Oliveira by decision at the same event. Not exactly a step up the ladder for Escudero, but the UFC has a way of building up their TUF winners slowly.

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Joe Silva Is Passionate About His Work


(‘Yes, now finish him you fool.  Finish him!  Mwahahahaha!’ Photo courtesy of UFC.com)

The Canadian no-accounts over at Fightlinker went looking through the UFC’s Fight Night photo gallery and found some pretty interesting shots, like this one of matchmaker Joe Silva getting all riled up about Rafael Dos Anjos’ weirdo thigh compression move on Tyson Griffin.  We’ve previously taken note of Silva’s tendency to lose his freaking mind when somebody does something cool, and we love to see a man with this kind of fire in the belly, but what do you think is going on with him here?  Is that the look of a man who is pumped up about the chance for a crazy upset, or a man who just realized that he forgot to close the garage door when he left home.  Oh God, the cats will get out!!!!

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UFC Fight Night: Condit vs. Kampmann — Videos + Bonuses


(Carlos Condit vs. Martin Kampmann)

Last night’s "Condit vs. Kampmann" card brought in a live gate of $626,077, thanks to its 10,267 spectators — which made it the most well-attended Fight Night show in UFC history. $120,000 was re-distributed to the fighters in the form of $30,000 end-of-night bonuses. Taking home the extra cash were…

Fight of the Night: Tyson Griffin and Rafael Dos Anjos, as mentioned earlier. Don’t ask us why their sloppy slugfest got the nod over the technical back-and-forth battle of the main event.

Knockout of the Night: Aaron Simpson’s first-round stoppage of Tim McKenzie in the night’s opening bout turned out to be the only TKO on the card, so he scored the bonus by default.

Submission of the Night: Rob Kimmons earned the bump with his first-round guillotine choke victory over Joe Vedepo, which put Vedepo to sleep for the second time in his short UFC career. It was nice knowing you, buddy.

More videos from the main card after the jump…

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UFC Fight Night: Condit vs. Kampmann — Blow by Blow


(Being around all these skinny guys just made Dana want to gorge on buffalo wings even more. Photo courtesy of this set on CombatLifestyle.)

One of the many advantages of living on the East Coast is that these UFC Fight Night thingies are actually broadcast live for us. That may not be the case for some of you in the "flyover states," so check your local listings and maybe come back later if you want to avoid all spoilers. When you’re ready, hit that "Read More" link and refresh the page every few minutes for live updates from the Sommet Center in Nashville. Are you ready to see some local refs ruin some fights? Then let’s DO this!

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James Irvin Returning From Painkiller Suspension as a Middleweight

James Irvin Houston Alexander UFC MMA
(The Sandman lands a superman-punch en route to his record-tying eight-second KO of Houston Alexander at UFC Fight Night 13 in April. Photo courtesy of NBCSports.)

MMA Mania reports that James Irvin — who was handed a nine-month suspension for testing positive for Methadone and Oxymorphone following his TKO loss to Anderson Silva last July — will be making his Octagon return at UFC 98 (May 23rd, Las Vegas). It will be his first fight at middleweight, as Irvin will be shedding 20 pounds from his jacked frame to face Miletich fighter Drew McFedries, who’s coming off consecutive losses to Mike Massenzio and Thales Leites. 

Since neither fighter has a winning record in the UFC — Irvin is 4-4 and McFedries is 3-4 —the loser could find himself without a contract after this one. What’s more, Irvin’s health could be a question; besides the sizable weight cut, Irvin was recovering from a broken foot during the Anderson Silva fight (which is why he was taking those potent painkillers in the first place), and was the victim of a bizarre knee injury during his fight against Thiago Silva in May 2007. UFC 98 will be headlined by the long-awaited grudge match between Matt Hughes and Matt Serra

In other UFC fight-booking news…

— Tyson Griffin will be looking to rebound from his October loss to Sean Sherk when he takes on Rafael Dos Anjos at UFC Fight Night 18 (April 1st, Nashville). Griffin has been successful five times in seven UFC appearances, though his last six bouts have gone to decision. Dos Anjos is the Brazilian Fury FC/Pancrase vet who was on the receiving end of the fifth greatest knockout of 2008 during his unfortunate UFC debut in November. 

Marcus Davis believes that Thiago Alves’s next opponent will be Mike Swick, though there’s been no official confirmation yet from the UFC. Davis has lost unanimous decisions to both fighters during his career, and wants revenge.

UPDATE: Also, TUF 8 losers Dave Kaplan and George Roop are throwing down at UFC 98.

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UFC Quick Hits: Koscheck, Penn, Guillard, + More

Josh Koscheck Chris Lytle MMA UFC
(Photo courtesy of FightNewsExtra.)

Josh Koscheck, who faces Paulo Thiago at UFC 95 on February 21st, has inked a 20-month contract extension with the UFC. Said Kos: "The UFC is the only show in town. If I wasn’t with them I would be a struggling fighter looking for work in a struggling country…I want to fight five to six times this year. I’ll be very unhappy if the UFC can’t get me fights."

— BJ Penn’s head trainer Rudy Valentino took offense to Dana White’s accusations that BJ Penn isn’t taking training seriously, as shown on the debut episode of UFC Primetime. "He makes it out to be that [BJ] is on vacation, not training and not taking [the fight] seriously. This fight is the most serious fight of all time. We’re not playing around…[Dana] will pull out drama in anything he does. He’s not a drama queen, he’s a drama king. [Dana] didn’t understand what we have to do….because he’s not a fighter. We don’t want [BJ] burning out or peaking at the wrong time."

— A lightweight match between Melvin Guillard and Octagon newcomer Ronnys Torres is slated for UFC Fight Night 18 (April 1st, Nashville). Torres is a 14-1 veteran of Jungle Fight and Shooto Brazil who works out with the Nova Uniao camp. Guillard, who had to pull out of UFC 90 due to a probation violation, last competed at UFC 86 in July, where he scored a 36-second knockout over Dennis Siver.

Tyson Griffin will also compete on the April 1st card, for the first time since his unanimous decision loss to Sean Sherk in October; his opponent hasn’t yet been confirmed.

— For many young mixed martial artists, being picked for the cast of The Ultimate Fighter is a dream come true. For Tom Egan and John Hathaway, it’s something to be avoided at all costs.

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