The #2 ranked lightweight Gilbert Melendez faced TUF 1 winner Diego Sanchez tonight at UFC 166.
Sanchez immediately took the center of the ring, looking to get an aggressive start. A botched head kick from Melendez leads Sanchez to take his back. Melendez was able to fend off the choke though, and tagged Sanchez a few times as the fighters separated. Melendez proceeded to use right hands to the head and body that seemed to frustrate Sanchez, causing him to unsuccessfully look for takedown opportunities. As the round progressed, Melendez’s striking dominance continued to grow, catching a Sanchez headkick and cutting the TUF veteran. Melendez dropped Sanchez towards the end of the round, with both fighters swinging for the fences as the first five minutes came to a close.
Sanchez goaded Melendez on as the second round opened. Melendez replied with some stiff combinations to the head and body. The fast-paced bout was then paused so that the doctor could inspect the cut on Diego Sanchez, but the doctor opted to let the fight continue. Both fighters continued to throw big combinations, with Melendez seemingly getting the better of the exchanges, even briefly dropping Sanchez. Sanchez was finally able to grab a takedown as the second round drew to a close, but was not able to capitalize on the opportunity before Melendez was back on his feet. Another unsuccessful takedown attempt and a big knee from Melendez ended the round.
The third round was an absolutely slug fest, with both fighters swinging with huge strikes. Melendez continued to get the better of the trades, but it didn’t seem to slow Sanchez down at all. The action was paused once again though for the doctor to get another look at Sanchez’s cut. With just two and a half minutes to go in the fight, Sanchez was cleared to continue again, and both fighters resume throwing bombs. A huge uppercut dropped Melendez for the first time, and in the scramble, Sanchez looked for a rear naked choke and a guillotine. The scramble continued to the feet with both fighters looking for a KO in the final moments of the fight. With neither of them giving an inch, the bout closes with both fighters swinging for the fences.
The judges return a well-earned 29-28,30-27, 29-28 unanimous decision for Gilbert Melendez, in what Joe Rogan calls, “the greatest fight I have ever seen.”
In the post-fight interview, Melendez revealed that he went out for a moment when Sanchez dropped him with the uppercut.
Sanchez stated that he “wants five rounds,” and is ready for a rematch.