Credit where credit is due: Melvin Guillard absolutely steamrolled Evan Dunham last night. He came out and simply blitzed the former lightweight golden boy with his speed, clipping him with an early right hand that Dunham never appeared to recover from. By the time Guillard put a fork in him a couple minutes later with a trio of knees along the fence – the last, clearly illegal one “just a technicality” the broadcast team immediately assured us – he’d managed to further scramble the already muddy lightweight ranks. Now watch Anthony Pettis lose to Clay Guida at the “TUF 13” finale and George Sotiropoulos lose to Dennis Siver at UFC 127 and we’ll really be in trouble.
However — (*clears throat*) – let’s not get carried away here. Let’s not get too crazy. Let’s not do the thing we seem to always do when a guy wins a big fight and start to completely overvalue Guillard based on this one performance. What he proved with his beating of Dunham on Saturday night was either one of two things. One, it could be that Greg Jackson is helping him to finally harness the physical tools he’s possessed from the beginning and has Guillard on the verge of becoming something special in the lightweight division. Or two, he was just a terrible match-up of styles for Dunham.
Now, it’d be great if it was the former. Heck, we’d love it to be the former. Guillard certainly deserves it, with the dues he’s paid and all that. But with five years of evidence that makes him look like nothing more than a middling UFC talent, we’re kind of concerned that it might be the latter and we’re going to need a couple more repeat performances of last night before we start fully buying “The Young Assassin” as a legit threat to the title. So let’s not go overboard with the talk about him suddenly becoming a “top contender” at 155-pounds.
It was a nice showing, the best of his career and it earned him an extra $30Gs for Knockout of the Night. In our view though, the only other thing it garnered him is a chance to now fight another mid-range contender in the weight class Joe Rogan aptly described last night as stacked “almost to the point of being unmanageable.” Somebody like Jim Miller or Kenny Florian or – damn it – maybe even Sean Sherk.
In the co-main event, Matt Mitrione underscored the fact that he’s on his way to being the UFC’s most intriguing heavyweight prospect, but maybe only because (short of Brendan Schaub) the UFC doesn’t really have any other true heavyweight prospects. Certainly guys like Roy Nelson and Stefan Struve are too advanced in their careers to be considered “prospects,” while guys like Junior dos Santos are obviously well beyond that point and guys like John Madsen aren’t fully on our radar yet. That pretty much leaves Mitrione.
And once again, in the interest of giving out duly-earned credit, “Meathead’s” progression through four professional fights is pretty amazing. Granted, he’s eventually going to have to fight somebody with a ground game before we get really impressed, but we can’t argue with the results so far. Up next we’d suggest somebody like Sean McCorkle or Pat Barry, if that’s not too much of a bummer for them, being such tight bros and all.
Barry escaped with a unanimous decision last night, but didn’t exactly blow anybody’s minds against an opponent we all thought he would flatten. In fact, short of the grippin’-and-grinnin’ and a couple broken bones, his performance against Joey Beltran looked a lot like the last 10-or-so minutes of the CroCop fight. It’s starting to feel like Barry’s style might be more about hanging back and picking his spots than handing out quick, Anderson Silva-style ass-whippings. That’s fine, but it’s going to lose you some fights somewhere down the road.
In other news, Yves Edwards nabbed two bonuses – Sub of the Night and Fight of the Night – for showing why he’s the veteran and Cody McKenzie is the rookie. Good on him, but in retrospect it seems a little weird that the UFC doesn’t award a bonus to the guy who turns in the evening’s best all-around performance, because that one would have to go to either Matt Wiman or Mark Hominick. You know, just saying.