Evan Dunham seeks rebound


It’s quite simple for Las Vegan Evan Dunham to avoid the pressure of facing a potential third straight loss Wednesday night on an Ultimate Fighting Championship card in Atlantic City, N.J.

He doesn’t acknowledge one of those previous defeats.

Dunham dropped a unanimous decision to Rafael dos Anjos in May 2013 in a fight he is convinced he won.

“(The losing streak) is a little frustrating, but I only look at it as coming off one loss. That loss in Brazil was a definite win for me,” he said. “I don’t take into account what judges think. If I did, it would be a tough life. Coming off a loss is never good. I’m just ready to get back in there and back in the win column.”

Dunham, 32, will fight Edson Barboza on a UFC Fight Night card on Fox Sports 1 (Cable 329). After the loss to dos Anjos, he was submitted by Donald Cerrone in November.

The University of Oregon alum returns in search of his first victory since February 2013.

He appeared well on his way to elite status in the lightweight division after he won his first four UFC fights to run his record to 11-0.

A 3-5 run over his last eight bouts has dropped his stock a bit, but Dunham doesn’t see himself very far from the top of the heap.

“I think I’m still up there with a lot of the top guys. I lost to Cerrone, but he’s a tough dude right up there vying for that title,” Dunham said of the man who will fight in Wednesday’s main event against Jim Miller. “I think I’m about two fights away from a top-contender fight. I just have to keep plugging away. It’s a really deep division so you have to put quite a few wins together.

“Of course, I’m not where I want to be, but there’s nothing I can really do to change that. What’s happened has happened and all I can do is do what I can to try to move forward and be positive with it.”

Critics point to Dunham abandoning a more grinding style that took advantage of his grappling background and instead becoming a bit of a brawler. He says it was more of a matter of reaching a point in his career where every opponent was highly skilled.

“I don’t care about what anybody writes. When you get higher and higher in level, it’s harder and harder to just be dominant in one aspect of the sport,” he said. “Sometimes you just have to put your chin down and your hands up and just go for it.

“That’s what I like to do and people can say whatever they want about it.”

He’ll put those skills to the test against Barboza, a talented striker who is also coming off a loss to Cerrone.

The main card airs live at 6 p.m. Wednesday, with the four-fight preliminary card also airing live on the network at 4.

■ HOLM SIGNS — The UFC took a step toward bolstering its women’s bantamweight division by signing Holly Holm last week.

Holm, formerly the top-ranked female boxer in the world, is 7-0 since transitioning to mixed martial arts under the tutelage of famed trainer Greg Jackson.

The UFC is expected to give the 32-year-old Albuquerque, N.M., native at least a fight or two before considering a matchup with champion Ronda Rousey.

No date or opponent has been named for the UFC debut of Holm, who is recovering from a broken left arm suffered during a knockout victory in April.

■ BAGAUTINOV TESTS POSITIVE — UFC flyweight Ali Bagautinov has been suspended one year by the British Columbia Athletic Commission after a pre-fight drug test for a title bout against Demeterious Johnson in Vancouver on June 14 came back positive for banned substances.

A test conducted on June 2 revealed the presence of EPO in Bagautinov’s system. The results were not available until after the fight. He lost a unanimous decision to Johnson in the main event of UFC 174.

The drug is used by athletes to increase red blood cell production to aid in endurance.

Bagautinov became the second UFC fighter in less than a month to test positive for the substance. Chael Sonnen, who faces discipline from the Nevada Athletic Commission later this month, tested positive for EPO before a fight in June. He was pulled from his bout and subsequently retired.

EPO is most notable in the sports world for its use by cyclists.

■ DODSON HURT — The bad news continued in the flyweight division as top contender John Dodson suffered a torn ACL and will be unable to challenge Johnson for the belt.

He will be out of training for six to eight months and likely won’t fight again until mid-2015.

Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.

 

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