Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweights Edson Barboza and Evan Dunham squared off in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 45 last night (Wed., July 16, 2014) from Revel Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey (full results here).
Both fighters came into the contest having lost their last bouts to UFC Fight Night 45 main event winner Donald Cerrone.
Barboza had "Cowboy" in trouble early on UFC on FOX 11 in April, but ultimately ate a stunning jab that allowed Cerrone to lock on a fight-ending rear naked choke. Still sitting with an impressive 13-2 record in mixed martial arts (MMA), Barboza still had time to fight his way to the peak of the stacked 155-pound division.
Out of action since Cerrone submitted him with a slick triangle choke at UFC 167 in November 2013, Dunham had dropped three out of his previous four bouts. The formerly touted Dunham was in a similar boat as Barboza, needing a win to silence the critics who said he never lived up to his considerable potential.
The fight was a crossroads of sorts for both opponents. When the dust settled on the pivotal bout, Barboza had scored another impressive finish to begin building another win streak.
The action began with Barboza controlling the Octagon. He worked the body with some breakneck shots, pushing the action. Dunham landed a left over the top and kept his movement high. Barboza snapped one of his hard leg kicks and went to the body again. Dunham sought a single leg that Barboza shrugged it off. Dunham landed some decent shots before Barboza countered with a left hook.
Then, it was all over in a flash.
The action went towards the cage as Barboza unleashed one of his vaunted power kicks to the body, crumpling Dunham and scoring the stoppage (watch the video replay here).
It barely grazed Dunham's midsection, showing just how powerful "Junior" truly is. He's back on track, but many tougher challenges will await him on his perceived rise towards the top.
A fight against the upcoming Abel Trujillo vs. Ross Pearson match-up at UFC Fight Night 47 on August 23 would make for an amazing test for Barboza. No. 11-ranked Rustam Khabilov, who recently lost to former champion Benson Henderson at UFC Fight Night 42 in June, would also make sense for "Junior."
For Dunham, he loss is devastating. He's lost four out of five and could see his UFC release sometime soon. While he's only lost to top-level fighters, he just hasn't been able to score a win, and that simply won't fly in one of the most talented divisions in all of MMA.
After a disappointing loss to Donald Cerrone, Edson Barboza rebounded by defeating Evan Dunham with a destructive body kick. Can the unbelievable striker finally capitalize on his massive potential?