In the main event of the evening, lightweights Evan Dunham (11-1, 4-1 UFC) and Melvin Guillard (26-8-2-1, 8-4 UFC) will go to battle with intentions of gaining some ground in an already shark-infested tank that is the UFC lightweight division. Dunham's last appearance was a razor-thin losing effort to former UFC lightweight champion Sean Sherk at UFC 119. By most accounts, Sherk had fell short on the scorecards, but he had apparently worked hard enough to earn a split decision over the 29-year-old Oregon-born Dunham.
In his previous four fights, Dunham had impressed fans with victories over Per Eklund, Marcus Aurelio, Efrain Escudero, and a dominant win over Tyson Griffin despite the fight also heading to a split decision judgment. Luckily, Dunham came out on the winning end of that decision.
Guillard has been on a successful run of his own, beginning with touted prospect Ronnys Torres at UFC 109. Guillard managed to stifle the Brazilian's attacks and earn himself an unanimous decision win. At UFC 114, he brutally knocked out Waylon Lowe with a knee to the body inside the opening frame of action, and he surprised many with his split decision victory over power puncher Jeremy Stephens at UFC 119 in September.
Most of the talk surrounding this fight has focused on Guillard's improvements under the tutelage of Greg Jackson. While there has been criticism among fans that Guillard's gameplans are much safer than he has normally fought in the past, Guillard still possesses the quickness and ferocity that made him a go-to guy when the promotion needed to inject excitement into a fight card. Whether or not that will be the case on Saturday night remains to be seen.
Guillard's improvements have been significant, but he'll be fighting a man who has, at least in my own account, beat both Sherk and Griffin in his last two performances. Dunham's well-roundedness and improved striking have been on display in both encounters, but his solid ground game will more than likely be where he intends to bring his encounter with Guillard.
Guillard's chance at success relies heavily on his takedown defense and countering tactics. If he can stuff Dunham's takedowns early and land stiff rights and lefts as Dunham exits, it could be a long night for Dunham. Unfortunately for Guillard, it only takes one takedown for an opponent to take full advantage of his weaknesses on the ground. While Guillard has improved in that area, I'm leaning toward Dunham gaining a dominant position and submitting Guillard in this contest.