Evan Dunham really needs a strong showing tonight against Melvin Guillard if he wants to stay in the UFC's lightweight title discussions. He's coming off the first loss of his career back at UFC 119 with Sean Sherk in a razor thin decision — a score that many pundits found controversial.
Guillard has improved leaps and bounds since making the move to Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn in Albuqurque but I just don't think he has enough on the ground to tangle with a BJJ black belt of Dunham's caliber. There's a reason Guillard has dropped seven of his eight losses by submission.
He may have one of the longest active tenures in the UFC but Guillard hasn't faced the kind of competition to warrant title talk. His win column is a who's who of some of the UFC's most unspectacular and three of his four losses are to fighters who are no longer employed by Zuffa. I'm including Joe Stevenson into that group as it is clearly only a matter of time.
If Melvin takes this fight, all the more power to him. He's looked better in each and every fight over the last year or so and knocking off Dunham would be huge for his career. I just don't see it happening tonight. Dunham is still undefeated in my eyes. Guillard is going to have to rely on his athleticism to keep this fight standing. If not? Dunham will walk out of the octagon with more appendages than he came in with.
I'm not really sure why this is the co-main event but I'm hoping one of these two guys show me. Tim Hague is more well known for being on the business end of the fastest knockout in UFC history than for fighting so I'm not sure how Mitrione doesn't take this fight. Hague choked out Mitrione's close friend and training partner — Pat Barry — back at UFC 98 so 'Meathead' may be looking for some revenge.
I expect Mitrione to avoid Hague's heavy hands and throw leg kicks until his heart's content. I'm just hoping for an exciting finish one way or the other. There is nothing worse than watching two gassed out heavyweights limp into the final round.
This is the fight to keep an eye on tonight. A win for Hominick makes him the No. 1 UFC featherweight contender while a win for Roop leaves the UFC with some decisions to make. Depending on how the fight goes, Roop has all the potential to make the Zuffa brass give him a shot at Jose Aldo if he can score a decisive victory tonight over his team Tompkins teammate.
"Nothing is for sure but who else are they going to give it to? I'm going to beat the No.1 contender. I feel like it's kind of a kick in the balls when Dana White came out and made that announcement a week and a half before the fight. Hominick gets it if he wins, but if he loses it's back to the drawing board? They're not going to have any other choice but to give it to me after the performance I plan on putting on. I plan on changing their minds; it wouldn't be the first time any fighter did."
All the pressure is on Hominick to perform in this fight. On top of the title implications, Hominick is fighting his training partner and teammate. Roop now has his own trainers game planning against him, something that should give quite an edge to Hominick. Roop temporarily switched camps for this fight, allowing Hominick to plot and scheme with Tompkins in peace. I believe this will be a deciding factor in this fight.
I just see too many factors working against Roop. He'll be able to handle himself perfectly well against Hominick but I worry about his time spent away from his regular training camp, from his normality. I think Hominick takes this one and takes his spot next in line to face Aldo in April.
I enjoy Pat Barry as much as our semi-progressive society allows, but he's not the world beater so many have made him out to be. Anyone who argues that should push back from the keyboard, find the nearest mirror, and take a long, hard look. Everyone seems to think all Barry needs to do to win this thing is wait for the octagon door to close, but I'm not so sure. His 'fight' with Mirko Cro Cop was an embarrassment. For him to lose that fight will forever make me question his ability to fully transition into MMA. And remember when he was choked out by Tim Hague? What was that about?
This fight isn't about Joey Beltran, it's about Barry's focus and not letting himself be submitted by another underwhelming heavyweight. If he can do that I think he takes this fight. To me, this is make or break for Barry.
I have to believe that Matt Wiman would really like to get the bad taste out of his mouth following the fiasco that took place with Mac Danzig. If you didn't catch it, Yves Lavigne wrongfully stepped in to prematurely end their fight at UFC 115 after it appeared that Danzig had been caught in a tight guillotine. Wiman won by technical submission, but I'm sure he didn't walk away from that fight feeling great about it.
Although Wiman and Miller are friendly in real life — even before being a part of the fifth season of 'The Ultimate Fighter' — it won't stop either of them from going for the finish. While Wiman may be the more well rounded fighter, I think Miller's length gives him an edge anywhere this fight ends up. Wiman will use his wrestling to try to dictate the pacing of the fight but Miller fighting off his back can be dangerous. His long legs lend to his very active, slick guard as he has demonstrated time after time. In fact, Miller has won by a submission from the guard a total of ten times.
This should be a great, close fight, but I'm leaning towards Miller.
I don't know what it is, but these free Spike cards for the troops always seem to provide the kind of moments that permanently entrench themselves into your cerebrum. The UFC has put on two such events to date and have already provided MMA gold. Who can forget Diego Sanchez knocking out Joe Riggs at UFC: Fight Night 7? How about the Corey Hill leg break or Josh Koscheck's first round KO over Yoshiyuki Yoshida at UFC: FIght Night 16? Absolute classics. Let's hope the fellas performing tonight can add to the legacy.
Stay tuned to SB Nation MMA as we break down the main card and try to make sense of our predictions.