Evan Dunham almost choked out Sean Sherk but lost the decision at UFC 119. (Photo by Al Bello/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
It wasn't a sell out. It wasn't a stacked card. In the end it was a moderately entertaining night of fights with an unmitigated stinker at the top, no less, no more.
- Frank Mir vs Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic
We knew going in that the headliner wasn't an important fight. We didn't know it was going to be an utter stinker. Mirko Filipovic was very shrewd if he did indeed get a contract rider stating that he couldn't be cut for losing this fight. But I don't know what the UFC does with him from here. Joey Beltran? Mir got the KO at the end but he didn't please the Zuffa brass as evinced by their refusal to give him a Knockout of the Night bonus despite his getting the only KO of the night. Mir is solidly outside the big four (Lesnar, Velasquez, Dos Santos, Carwin) of the division, a bout against the winner of UFC 121's Brendan Schaub vs Gabriel Gonzaga would make sense for Mir.
- Ryan Bader vs Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
Well Bader didn't quite put an exclamation point on it, but he did manage to get past Little Nog with a win. While Bader's best moments were early in the fight, he landed the most damaging blows and controlled the action throughout. Nogueira occasionally showed signs of opening up on the feet, but every time he got a rally going or fired a combination, Bader's double leg take down was there to shut him down. Bader will have his work cut out for him against Jon Jones if that much anticipated match indeed gets made. The winner of Jones vs Bader will be number one contender with a bullet.
- Chris Lytle vs Matt Serra
Essentially a "senior circuit" fight like the headliner, this one showed the entertainment possibilities of irrelevant fights. But it doesn't really mean anything for either fighter except it will make it harder for Serra to get a rematch with Matt Hughes. Lytle will remain a lower tier gatekeeper in the UFC's 170lb division.
Sean Sherk vs Evan Dunham
This fight DID matter. A classic battle between a young lion on the rise and an old lion trying to hold his spot at the top, it delivered great action too. Sherk showed that he remains a threat at lightweight with the ability to score slams and do damage on the ground. Dunham showed that he can hang with the very best in the division. Unfortunately judges Cecil Peoples and Glenn Trowbridge missed the fight and gave Sherk a split decision win when Dunham pretty clearly whipped Sherk's ass. But in their defense, the 10-point must system doesn't look at the fight as a whole and the first was definitively Sherk's with the second being fairly close. But Dunham survived Sherk's early blitz on the ground and put it to the shorter veteran on the feet. You can't really blame Dunham for letting the fight go to the judges since he hit Sherk with everything but a shotgun blast in the third round and the Muscle Shark refused to go down. Dana White seems to disagree with the judges so it seems likely that both Sherk and Dunham will remain on the contender's track at 155. Dunham vs Melvin Guillard would be fun as would Sherk vs Charles Oliviera.
- Melvin Guillard vs Jeremy Stephens
It sure wasn't the barnburner that most anticipated, but Melvin Guillard showed that he can avoid the mental mistakes that have dogged his career and Jeremy Stephens showed he's the hardest hitter in the division. But neither man showed the tactical acumen of a truly top level fighter, allowing the fight to devolve into a boxing match sprinkled with kicks. If either man had threatened with take downs it would have made their striking much more effective, maybe that's something that Greg Jackson can work on with Guillard. A win over Sean Sherk would put Guillard firmly into contention in the division. Thiago Tavares could also be a good next foe for Guillard.
- C.B. Dollaway vs Joe Doerksen
Dollaway's submission win over the sub-savvy Doerksen sends a message that Dollaway is emerging as a wrestler-grappler in the mold of Matt Hughes, Jake Shields, and Phil Davis. I'd like to see Dollaway against the winner of Demian Maia vs Kendall Grove next.
- Matt Mitrione vs Joey Beltran
Mitrione outclassed Beltran but he failed to put him away and it's clear he has a ways to go to be a factor in the UFC heavyweight division. Jon Madsen or Mike Russow might be good next opponents for him.