This past weekend Evan Dunham fought at UFC Fight Night 94 and put forth a fairly dominant performance. Dunham is now on a four fight win streak and that’s exactly how many UFC fights he had when he ran into his first roadblock, Sean “The Muscle Shark” Sherk. Dunham was an undefeated prospect in the Lightweight Division and was getting his biggest competition to date in the former champ Sherk. The fight ended in a split decision and a chorus of boos as two of the judges gave the fight to Sherk 29-28. The fans in the arena that night believed the judges got it wrong, so it is time to review and find out.
Sherk takes the center of the cage. Dunham is able to land a couple jabs before Sherk goes in for a takedown and Dunham tries to reverse that into a guillotine. Sherk escapes and ends up on top. Sherk lands a little ground and pound. Dunham gets back to his feet about halfway through the round. Sherk lands a nice takedown but Dunham pops right back up to his feet and his back against the cage. Dunham goes for another choke then tries to get Sherk’s back but winds up on the bottom again. Sherk lands a nasty elbow that opens up a cut on Dunham’s forehead. Dunham gets back up to his feet and right before the round ends the doctors take a look at the cut. Fight resumes with eight seconds left.
Round 1 winner Sean Sherk 10-9: Sherk was in top position for most of the round and opened up a nasty cut on Dunham. Dunham had nice submission attempts but not enough effective grappling to win the round.
Dunham starts the round landing some nice strikes but then Sherk goes for a takedown twenty seconds in. Dunham drops for another guillotine then gets back to his feet once Sherk escapes. Dunham cannot get off the cage. Dunham goes for another choke they roll around and wind up in the same position with Dunham having his back to the cage. Sherk not landing much offensively in this position but neither is Dunham. Sherk scoops Dunham for a takedown but Dunham gets back up and finally separates from Sherk. Two minutes left in the round and both of them share some nice exchanges. Dunham begins to start getting better in these exchanges and begins to land some heavy strikes on Sherk. The last thirty seconds are all Dunham as he is landing strikes at will.
Round 2 winner Sean Sherk 10-9: The way the round ended you almost have to give the round to Dunham, almost. Dunham was not able to separate himself from the top game of Sherk until there was only two minutes left. Sherk’s effort in the first three minutes was just enough to outweigh the last two minutes.
Dunham rocks Sherk with a head kick 10 seconds into the round. Sherk recovers and puts Dunham against the cage once again. Sherk is still in control but Dunham begins to land some nice elbows. Sherk gets a quick takedown but Dunham gets up. Sherk goes for another takedown but Dunham stuffs it and separates himself from the cage. A little over half of the round is left and Dunham lands some nice strikes. Sherk tries to pin Dunham to the cage again but cannot hold him there. Flying knee from Dunham rocks Sherk. Dunham lands some more great strikes. Dunham throws a couple more knees and Sherk is just eating every strike and somehow still on his feet. Round ends with both men throwing punches.
Round 3 winner Evan Dunham 10-9, but ultimately giving the fight to Sean Sherk 29-28. Dunham had a great third round. He was finally able to get away from Sherk’s suffocating top game to land some vicious strikes and nearly end the fight. I truly believe that if this fight would have gone five rounds, it would have a different outcome. Sherk did just enough in the first two rounds to stifle the game plan of the young Evan Dunham so upon further review the judges got it… right.
(Abe Ruvalcaba is a new MMATorch contributor who authors the “Upon Further Review” column. He has been an MMA for over six years and it’s become far and away his favorite sport. He is current studying for his Broadcast/Journalism degree and works as an assistant producer at a radio station in Oklahoma City. His passion includes breaking down fights and trying to get into the heads of the fighters and judges to find out their thought process.)
Agree to disagree. My memory of the fight didn’t jive with your description so I rewatched it. My memory was correct. Evan Dunham won that fight (rds 2 &3). Sherk was outstruck nearly two to one, and did nothing with his takedowns. I loves me some muscle-shark but Sean got a gift decision at UFC 119.
Brilliant idea for a series of columns. I look forward to your next one.