Courtesy of UFC
Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011 | 2:05 a.m.
Despite the one loss attached to his professional record, almost everyone involved with the UFC considers 29-year old lightweight Evan Dunham (11-1) an undefeated fighter.
Dunham lost a controversial split decision last September at UFC 119 against Sean Sherk. The result drew the ire of mixed-martial-arts enthusiasts and UFC executives alike, as they all felt Dunham controlled the bout enough to earn a victory.
"He got screwed," UFC President Dana White said. "Everyone knows a big problem in mixed martial arts right now is the judging. I think Evan Dunham won the fight. On his record he's 11-1, but this kid is one of the most talented and up-and-coming kids in this division."
While others harped on the decision, Dunham let it go. The Las Vegas-based fighter, who splits his time training at Xtreme Couture and Throwdown Training Center, accepted the defeat and said he was ready to move on to his next contest.
Dunham can put the Sherk fight permanently behind him this weekend as he faces Melvin Guillard (26-8-2) in the headlining bout of UFC: Fight For The Troops 2 card Saturday in Fort Hood, Texas.
"There's no going back and changing it," Dunham said of his defeat. "As far as dealing with a loss, I lost as an amateur. I've dealt with losses before and have had to come back from them. It's a bummer, but I've got to deal with it the best I can."
The best way to deal with it would come by scoring a decisive victory against Guillard, the 27-year old veteran and "The Ultimate Fighter" alumnus.
Guillard is on a three-fight winning streak and hasn't lost since September 2009. He's switched to a more cautious and technical fighting style, which could be an interesting contrast to Dunham's approach.
Dunham relies on attacking relentlessly with his striking and quick takedowns. Dunham enters as a heavy -250 favorite (risking $2.50 to win $1) according to sports books.
"I know for a fact Evan Dunham is a tough opponent, a very worthy opponent," Guillard said. "I also feel he's still undefeated. I feel he won that Sherk fight, so I get to go in next week and fight an undefeated fighter and show this kid I've been in the game for 15 years."
Dunham's situation is unique for the MMA world. It's not often a fighter draws so much sympathy, especially from his next opponent.
"It's nice for them to express that so I know how they feel instead of being left in the dark about it," Dunham said. "It's a good thing to hear and it's motivating. It helps me keep my head up."
Still, Dunham is not going to even approach marking down the Sherk fight as a victory as White and Guillard have done.
A loss is a loss, Dunham said. Fighters always stress not allowing judges the opportunity to decide who wins. Dunham now knows that better than anyone.
"I thought I had won it, my corner thought I had won it," he said. "But in MMA, we all know that stuff happens that's out of your control, especially with the judges."
"Hopefully, I can prevent that from happening again and move on from it."