After a dominant first round from Beneil Dariush, Evan Dunham recovered and clawed his way back to a majority draw at UFC 216.
Beneil Dariush (now 14-3-1) almost finished Evan Dunham (now 18-6-1) in the first round after he floored him with a vicious elbow. It wouldn’t be enough to stop the courageous Evan Dunham, though.
— UFC (@ufc) October 8, 2017
Beneil Dariush started the fight by taking command of the center of the octagon. Evan Dunham was happy circling around Dariush and waiting for his opportunity to strike. He couldn’t find his timing or distance, though, and started throwing relatively wild strikes.
Dariush was the bigger and stronger man in round one and he threw Dunham around the octagon. After moving Dunham against the cage, Dariush launched a vicious elbow that dropped Dunham to the canvas. Evan Dunham was clearly hurt and started to cover up from further blows from his opponent. It looked as though the referee might stop the contest as Dunham was offering nothing outside of covering up in the turtle position. Dariush continued to ground and pound his downed opponent.
Dunham woke up and realized that he still had a chance to recover, the fight wasn’t over yet. He rolled out for a kneebar attempt but couldn’t secure a tight grip. Dariush remained in top position and started to bang knees into Dunham’s body who was still on the canvas. Somehow Dunham survived the first round and made his way back to the corner.
Round two began and it was clear that Beneil Dariush was a little fatigued after that depleting his energy in round one. When Dunham secured a takedown, Dariush attempted an omoplata but was never really close to finishing the submission. Whether in part due to restricted operating room due to the cage, or because he never tightened the arm up in between his legs, Dunham slipped out with ease.
Dariush’s fatigue impacted both his decision making, style and physicality in the second and third round. Whereas in the first he was pushing the pace and throwing Dunham around, now he was sitting back waiting for Dunham to close the distance and he would answer with powerful counter strikes. As a result, Dunham was the more active of the two fighters and while he wasn’t landing anything with real significance, he was beginning to control the fight.
By the third round, Dunham had really kicked into gear and had a sense of Dariush’s timing. Dariush attempted a kick early in the third round and Dunham read it well enough to catch it, something that wasn’t happening in round one. As Dariush moved forward with a poor attempt at an uppercut, Dunham answered back with his biggest punch of the night – a straight left hand to the face. The fight ended with both guys trading heavy blows, but it was Dunham who would win the third and final round.
Beneil Dariush vs. Evan Dunham was a fascinating battle between two ranked lightweights at UFC 216. Dariush showed that he is a monster in the first round. Dunham also proved that he has the composure, endurance and ability to outwork an opponent as the fight progresses into deep waters.
Fight rating: 70/100
Beneil Dariush’s same old problems were visible again at UFC 216. While he looks mightily impressive at times, he also fatigues too early and we start to see a shadow of how good Beneil Dariush could be by the second round.
It’s the same story as the Edson Barboza fight. His first round was excellent, but he became exhausted. When Dariush fatigues, his explosiveness disappears and he makes poor decisions.
In this fight, he showed overwhelming physicality in the first round and was able to push Dunham around. That wasn’t the case by the second and third round, though.
Dariush also chose to plant his feet and throw heavy punches. This was especially the case with his powerful left hand.
Evan Dunham showed incredible heart at UFC 216, but that’s nothing new.
In fact, there wasn’t really anything fascinating about Dunham’s game tonight and he instead kept it close by effective dirty boxing and work inside the clinch.
When hurt in round one, he showed incredible composure and recovered quickly.