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The After Party – UFC Fight for the Troops 2

UFC helped raise money for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund this past Saturday night with a three-hour telethon that happened to have some fighting in between some emotional video packages. While it wasn’t a card stacked with big names, it was an event that boosted the stock of a lot of fighters with their performances. At the end of the night though, it wasn’t about the fighters or the fights, it was about raising money for a good cause and the troops that fight for us. The fights were really just a bonus because I’m sure the troops were more than satisfied with getting to stare at Brittney Palmer in camouflage for six hours.

Melvin Guillard defeated Evan Dunham by TKO (Strikes) at 2:58 in Round One

Many wondered whether or not Evan Dunham could handle the power of Melvin Guillard in this fight. It didn’t take long for us to get an answer.

The fight got off to a slow start with both guys trying to find their range. Then Guillard landed a nice right hand that put Dunham into retreat mode. Dunham managed to get a takedown but couldn’t do anything with it as Gullard was quickly to his feet and back on the attack. Guillard landed another right hand that dropped Dunham, blasted him with a knee in the clinch, and then finish him with another knee that looked to be illegal. Even though the final knee was illegal, it made no difference in the fight. Dunham looked out from the first knee and the result would have been the same if Guillard had used punches instead of his knee. Luckily the knee didn’t overshadow Guillard’s performance and victory.

All of a sudden Dunham has lost two straight fights. The potential is still there for him to be a top lightweight but he’s got to get over his bad habit of starting slow. His striking could still use some work but Guillard has always given guys problems with his speed and power. Maybe Dunham came into this fight overconfident or flat because he suffered a mental letdown after Kenny Florian pulled out and if that’s the case, I would hope that he learned that there are no easy fights in the lightweight division and that he needs to take every opponent serious. I still think Dunham can be a top guy in the division because he’s a good grappler and he’s a big guy for the weight class. Right now he could benefit from a fight with a tough well-rounded veteran just to see where he’s at in his game. I’d like to see him fight Yves Edwards because Edwards is a guy with a lot of skills and experience who knows that he only has one more good run in him.

Guillard finally seems like he’s putting it all together and I really think you have to credit Team Greg Jackson for that. I know Jackson and his crew catch a lot of unnecessary heat for, “turning good fighters boring” but no matter what your opinion is of Jackson’s camp, you can’t deny that he makes fighters realize their potential. What impressed me most with Guillard in this fight was his ability to stuff the takedown and when he was taken down, his ability to bounce right back up. He’s always been a handful on his feet thanks to his speed and power but if he can consistently prevent guys from getting him down or keeping him down, he’s a tough draw for anyone in the division. I doubt he’ll get a title shot in 2011 because there are a lot of guys ahead of him on the pecking order but Guillard is someone who has never been short on confidence. I’m sure Guillard wants to get back in the cage as soon as possible and it’s a shame that a lot of top lightweights already have fights booked but Sean Sherk is a guy without a fight right now, he’s a guy that will truly test Guillard’s wrestling and cardio, and he’s a former champion.

Predicted Next Fights: Dunham vs. Edwards – Guillard vs. Sherk

Matt Mitrione defeated Tim Hague via TKO (Strikes) at 2:59 in Round One

Tim Hague was back in the UFC for his third stint and unfortunately for him, the third time was not the charm as Matt Mitrione gave him a thrashing in his return.

As has become his trademark, Mitrione was all smiles before this fight. He seemed to hurt Hague early with some good leg kicks, he was moving well, he stuffed a strong takedown attempt by Hague, and then he dropped Hague with a left straight. After that Hague kept trying for a couple more takedowns to no avail before Mitrione dropped him with another left straight and followed that up with strikes on the ground that forced the referee to stop things. Just like he was before the bout, Mitrione was all smiles after the bout.

With this loss Hague will likely be officially cut from the organization not once, not twice, but thrice. He really looked like he wanted no part of Mitrione on this fight, which was a real shame because you would think that a guy given a third chance in the UFC in the co-main event of a show in front of the troops would fight with a lot more urgency and passion. He’s still relatively young so maybe he’ll improve and be back but he could just never capitalize on his big win over Pat Barry. Luckily he benefits from being Canadian as UFC is always trying to fill cards in Canada with hometown fighters but I would hope that he wants to advance past the level of just being a local guy brought in for a cheap crowd pop. Hague could really benefit from signing with Bellator. They don’t have a great heavyweight division but it is filled with a lot of good tests for him and it would allow him to fight on a consistent basis.

So maybe Mitrione thinks he’s more Dominick Cruz than Anthony Pettis but whichever lighter weight fighter you want to compare him to, you can’t deny that the kid has talent. He once again showed some improvements in his game, mainly in his movement and speed. Hague is a decent grappler and Mitrione easily dealt with Hague’s attempts to get him to the ground. Mitrione is a much better athlete than a lot of people will give him credit for and he’s a guy that just keeps improving with every single fight. Even if Hague was a designed win for Mitrione or not considered top competition, Mitrione still took care of business and made short work of him. That’s the sign of someone who has the potential to be a really good fighter as long as they’re willing to put the work in. Mitrione wants better competition and while I’d like him to be brought along slowly, there’s no doubt that he’s ready for a jump up the ladder. So who does one face when you’re trying to see whether or not they’re ready to enter the heavyweight mansion? Why the ultimate gatekeeper Cheick Kongo of course.

Predicted Next Fights: Hague vs. Unemployment – Mitrione vs. Kongo

Mark Hominick defeated George Roop via TKO (Strikes) at 1:28 in Round One

With a title shot on the line, Mark Hominick proved exactly why he deserves a crack at Jose Aldo by making quick work of George Roop.

Roop was looking good early in this fight. He was moving well, keeping Hominick at bay with kicks, and tagging Hominick was some good combinations. Then Hominick landed a beautiful straight right that stumbled Roop and pretty much took him out of the fight. After that Hominick continued to land the right hand before dropping Roop for good with a left hook. The stoppage looked a little early but when Roop stood after the fight and stumbled around like he had just spent the past 24 hours with Charlie Sheen, I don’t think anyone complained about the ref stopping things. Hominick not only won this fight but he made a strong statement in the direction of Aldo.

There is a dumb MMA saying that applies to Roop in this situation. “He was doing well, and then he lost.” Roop was doing all the right things, then he got hit with a straight right, and that was it for him. He doesn’t have a great record but I still have some faith in Roop simply because of his size at the 145-pound weight class. Maybe he’s just destined to be a mid-level fighter though whose career highlight came when he double tapped “The Korean Zombie.” Since he’s on a string of fighting strikes, it might be time to mix it up with Roop and give him a really good grappler.

Hominick doesn’t lack confidence heading into his fight against Aldo but is there any worse good news in MMA than hearing Joe Silva say, “you’re fighting Jose Aldo next”? Hominick might be the best striker Aldo has ever faced but Aldo is a pretty good striker in his own right. Even if you believe that Hominick doesn’t have a prayer against Aldo, this performance had to make you excited to see the fight. Hominick did win a close and lackluster decision like others fighters have done prior to getting a title shot, he went out there, threw about eight punches, landed all of them, knocked Roop down a couple of times, and finished him. That kind of performance says, “I’m ready to face one of the best fighters in the world.” If I could give any advice to Hominick as he prepares to fight Aldo, it would be to check those leg kicks. Taking clean leg kicks from Leonard Garcia and Roop is one thing, taking them from Aldo just looks like it sucks.

Pat Barry defeated Joey Beltran via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

With their backs against the wall, Pat Barry and Joey Beltran came out swinging in hopes of preserving their UFC careers for at least one more fight.

Beltran said he was going to turn this fight into a dirty brawl and that’s exactly what he did for the better part of two rounds. He pressed Barry with punches, put him up against the cage, roughed him up with dirty boxing and knees in the clinch, and really limited Barry. The first round was a bit dull but it was exactly the kind of fight Beltran needed to fight. Beltran did much of the same in the second round but Barry finally started to unload more with leg kicks, which really took the pep out of Beltran’s step. Beltran hung tough in the round and even pressed the action late despite essentially walking on one leg. Beltran started the third round off just like he fought the first two rounds, putting punches in Barry’s face and pressing him against the cage but Barry continued to survive and when he was able to create space, he unleashed more of his heavy leg kicks. It looked like Beltran gave up in the middle of the round after a vicious leg kick but he was poked in the eye and given time to recover. Beltran continued to hop forward and gut out the fight but Barry kept chopping at him with leg kicks. It looked like Barry had a chance to finish Beltran a couple of times during the third round but Beltran managed to survive to see a decision. At the end of the fight, Barry stood tall while Beltran barely stood.

Beltran once again fought his heart out but he just didn’t have the skill to match Barry. He had a great game plan and he stuck to it but Barry just destroyed him with leg kicks and did more overall damage. Maybe he should have switched stances earlier and more often but Barry was going to continue to attack the legs no matter which one was forward. Beltran isn’t the greatest fighter in the world but he always comes to fight and I really hope he’s given another fight in the UFC. Let him keep fighting guys who will bang it out with him because even if he never advances past the mid-level, at least he’ll continue to put on exciting fights. And before you start feeling sorry for Beltran’s leg, think of poor Barry’s foot. Maybe he can borrow Mike Goldberg’s foot warmers for the next week or so.

There is no denying the talent of Barry but he reminds me a little too much of Brandon Vera. Great talent but there is a mental hurdle that he needs to get over. Barry fights like he expects people to quit when he hits them instead of making them quit. In reality, he should have finished Beltran but he allowed Beltran to stick around to see a decision. Even in his victories, he has a case of premature celebration where he raises his arms in victory before the ref officially steps in to stop things. His grappling and wrestling is still very questionable and I wonder just how much he learned from spending all that time with Brock Lesnar and his camp. He could really benefit from another stint at Lesnar’s camp prior to his next fight. Travis Browne sort of called out Barry on twitter for playing the “sympathy card” with his post-fight speech. Browne has bigger things to worry about with Stefan Struve but that’s a fight I would look out for in the future.

Predicted Next Fights: Beltran vs. Antoni Hardonk – Barry vs. Browne

Matt Wiman defeated Cole Miller via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27

Many expected a back and fourth war when Cole Miller vs. Matt Wiman was announced. Instead we got a one sided performance and the best of Wiman’s career.

Even before the bell rang, Wiman meant business in this fight. He and Miller were pacing back and fourth and trash talking during introductions and then when Miller wanted to touch gloves in the first round, Wiman would have none of it. For 15 minutes, Wiman never let up on Miller. He pressured him with leg kicks and combinations and he never let Miller get comfortable and find his range on the feet. Miller had a little success in the first round with knees to the body in the clinch but other than that, it was all Wiman on the feet. Wiman really took over on the ground though. In the first round he slammed Miller down when Miller tried to pull guard, in the second round he got a takedown when Miller went for a knee, and in the third round Wiman ended up on top after narrowly finishing the fight with a guillotine choke after a desperation takedown attempt from Miller. Like on the feet, Wiman never let up on Miller on the ground. Even though he never got past the half guard of Miller, Wiman was relentless on top with short elbows and good punches. He did his best work when he stood in the guard of Miller and rained down a flurry of punches that had Miller covering and just trying to survive. Wiman even paid tribute to Kazushi Sakuraba by throwing a couple of double chops and even trying a cartwheel pass late in the fight. The round result was a dominating decision victory for Wiman and a bunch of happy pets watching at home.

This wasn’t the Miller that we’ve seen in his past few fights. Credit Wiman for never letting him rest on the feet but on the ground Miller never attacked off his back like many expected him to. Instead he just laid on his back and took a pounding like he was auditioning to replace Tori Black in Superwoman XXX 2. I still think Miller has the talent to be a really good fighter and maybe this was just an off night for him but in the crowded lightweight division, he can’t afford too many off nights. Donald Cerrone has an upcoming fight against Paul Kelly but win or lose, Cerrone vs. Miller needs to happen. It would be a great fight to have on a Fight Night card and they would do plenty of trash talking between them.

Wiman turned in an outstanding performance. He never let Miller find his range on the feet, he took him down with explosiveness and power, and he constantly pressured him on the ground. Even though he didn’t finish Miller, he also didn’t just coast his way to a victory. For 15 minutes he let the world know that he was better than Miller and sometimes that’s just as good as a quick finish. Given his unfinished business with Mac Danzig and the fact that Danzig is coming off a huge win over Joe Stevenson, now seems like the perfect time to settle the score.

Predicted Next Fights: Miller vs. Cerrone – Wiman vs. Danzig


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