While it appeared as though Evan Dunham had done enough inside the Conseco Fieldhouse to leave UFC 119 with a perfect 12-0 professional record, two of the three judges sitting Octagon-side saw things differently. Although there’s no such thing as a consolation prize in a sport as cut and dry as MMA, his stock certainly skyrocketed in the controversial defeat.
“It’s definitely bitter sweet. More bitter than sweet for sure cause a loss is a loss,” Dunham said at the post-fight press conference. “I’ve had my losses as an amateur, you learn more from a loss and I think there’s a lot that I can take away from this. I’m definitely not happy. I’m just gonna get back into the gym as soon as I can and start trying to correct mistakes.
“It’s a loss when it comes down to it.”
Despite beating Sean Sherk in nearly every statistical category, the former lightweight champ manged to escape with his first win in over 23 months. Although the 28-year-old came up a little short, Sherk was the first to give the Xtreme Couture fighter props for his much improved game.
“Evan’s certainly tough. Like I told him after the fight, I can see [him] being the UFC champion some day. I really can,” Sherk said of the youngster. “He’s an up-and-comer and he’s super tough.”
Perhaps the only voice that really matters echoed the same sentiment, as UFC president Dana White congratulated both 155-pounders for adding some desperately needed excitement to a mundane pay-per-view event.
“It was a great fight,” White emphatically stated. “It’s one of the best fights we’ve had in a long time, definitely the best fight tonight. Evan’s a talented kid.”
No competitor ever wants to lose, especially when the resume is immaculate. However, Dunham made plenty of new fans in Indy – with White serving as one of his biggest supporters.