Former Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez is back in the mix for a shot at the UFC lightweight title after a Fight of the Night performance against Diego Sanchez at UFC 166 in Houston, picking up an unanimous decision win.
Melendez dropped a split decision to former champion Benson Henderson in their title fight in April, but UFC president Dana White told the media in Houston that Anthony Pettis recently winning the title opens the door for Melendez.
“It’s very good for him that Pettis did win that fight (against Henderson) because he just got done fighting Henderson and it definitely puts him back in the mix for the title shot,” White said.
“That was a Mexican world war in there. It was just awesome. In the 13 years I’ve been in this company I’ve seen some amazing fights, but I don’t think I’ve seen one like that.”
Melendez and Sanchez became an instant classic after their three-round war, which was dubbed the “best fight ever,” with Sanchez holding Melendez, a former training partner, in high regard.
“I take my hat off to Gilbert,” Sanchez said. “I believe he is the No. 1 lightweight in the world. I thought he was the uncrowned champ going into this fight. I thought he beat Benson Henderson and he avenged his other two losses too. He’s one of the best in the world.”
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