Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight scrappers Beneil Dariush and Evan Dunham faced off last night (Oct. 7, 2017) at UFC 216 from inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Dariush came into this fight in something of a must-win position. He slid from the top 10 in his previous bout, which saw Edson Barboza rally with a jump knee knockout. He wasn’t at risk of being released or anything so dramatic, but Dariush did need a victory to remain a relevant Lightweight.
As for Dunham, it seemed like the veteran had settled into the role of gatekeeper. The 34 year old upended that plan with four straight victories, earning himself this chance to jump into the top 10.
Dariush opened by taking the center of the Octagon, and the two exchanged quickly. A couple minutes into the round, Dariush scored with an elbow in the clinch that crumpled his opponent. Dariush chased the finish, taking top position and landing some seriously heavy shots.
Dunham played guard gamely, trying to use his hooks to sweep or stand up. Instead, Dariush flowed around from top position, and he kept smacking up Dunham. The veteran escaped back to his feet at the end of the round, but it was far too late to rally.
Dariush was utterly dominant.
Dunham scored a much needed takedown to start the round. Unfortunately for the Las Vegas native, Dariush used an omoplata attempt to stand and then returned to the center.
On the feet, Dariush had a clear edge in power, and it was allowing him to dictate exchanges and keep Dunham trapped on the fence. Additionally, he was landing brutal outside low kicks.
It was a better round for Dunham -- with his takedown and some clinch control -- but Dariush was still the better man in my book.
Dariush seemed to fatigue a bit in the third round, allowing Dunham to close the gap. The fight-changing power shot or takedown didn't land, but Dunham was able to land some combinations and a few good counters there were missing previously.
On the whole, the third round was the closest of the fight. Dunham was landing at a better rate and upped the volume, while Dariush was still scoring with stinging jabs and low kicks.
By the end of the fight, Dunham had bloodied his foe up a bit, but he failed to complete the comeback. Surprisingly, the judges decided that this bout was a draw, despite Dariush pretty clearly taking the opening two rounds.
Regardless of the draw, this was another strong performance from Dariush. He came into the UFC as a grappling specialist, but lately his Muay Thai has been on display. In this bout, he showed a great understanding of distance, picking his weapons wisely to do a ton of damage.
Ultimately, Dariush's only issue was conditioning. He slowed down quite a bit in the third, and that allowed Dunham back into the fight. Last time out, it allowed Barboza to time his jump knee knockout, so clearly that's an issue for Dariush to solve moving forward.
Still... It was a great fight, even if I think Dariush's hand deserved to be raised.
As for Dunham, all respect to the veteran. He took a beating in the first, and his leg was giving him serious trouble by the end of the second round. Despite that, he rallied and took the final frame -- and apparently some other round? -- getting himself back in the fight.
Against a better athlete, Dunham stuck to his guns and eventually found success. That's all that can really be asked; given his skill set, Dunham did the best job possible and fought hard to get back into the bout after a disastrous start.
Last night, Beneil Dariush and Evan Dunham battled to a draw. Did you agree with the decision?
For complete UFC 216 “Ferguson vs. Lee” results and play-by-play, click HERE!